Denied Again: Judge Dietz denies charter school students constitutional protections in latest ruling

Denied Again: Judge Dietz denies charter school students constitutional protections in latest ruling

Despite overwhelming evidence, Dietz gets it wrong on some charter claims.

(Austin, Texas) — The Honorable Judge Dietz issued his written ruling this afternoon after nearly two years of trial. 
“We agree wholeheartedly with the judge’s findings on adequacy. However, the judge got it wrong on specific charter claims, and it’s now time for the Texas Supreme Court to get it right,” said David Dunn, executive director of the Texas Charter Schools Association (TCSA). “Public charter schools have answered the call from parents for more quality education choices and innovative options, but we know that parents aren’t willingly choosing to walk away from needed funds for their students. It’s unfair to provide the option and not provide the means.”

“The evidence was plain during trial: charter school students receive $1,000 less than district students on average each year,” said David Dunn, TCSA. “This disparity creates constitutional harm that Judge Dietz failed to recognize despite the use of the state’s own data to prove this point.”

More detail on the ruling:
The court’s responses to the charter school claims were mixed.  The judge’s findings held that the state’s funding to charter schools is inadequate to meet state standards. More than seventy percent of students in charter schools are economically disadvantaged, and the state has not met its constitutional burden to provide the resources necessary to serve these students. However, as much as charter schools support the court’s conclusions regarding adequacy, we disagree with the court’s denial of the charter schools’ efficiency claim. TEA’s Lisa Dawn Fisher’s data shows that charter school students receive $1,000 less per WADA than district students on average each year. This disparity is caused by a lack of facilities funding for charter schools and an arbitrary use of a statewide average in many elements of the state funding formula. Charter schools and TCSA look forward to getting this right at the Texas Supreme Court.

More detail on the charter school claims:
The Legislature has stated in Texas Education Code 11.002, that charter schools are primary implementers of public education. Instruction and the facilities where that instruction takes place are inseparable according to the Texas Supreme Court. Whatever method the Legislature chooses to deliver education funds, it must be fair. The Legislature has discretion, but that discretion is not unconditional. In this trial, charter schools and TCSA have shown a huge gap in funding between charter schools and the other plaintiff groups.