Jason Gonzales reports:
A judge has denied a request from Metro Nashville Public Schools asking the courts to command Tennessee to fully provide education funding to local school districts.
The district’s petition, filed Sept. 1, contends that the state’s constitution requires the Tennessee General Assembly to fully fund education in the state under its Basic Education Program. Commonly known as the BEP, it’s the formula the state uses to calculate how much it costs to educate an individual student in Tennessee.
Apparently agreeing with the state’s attorneys who said:
In its response to Nashville’s petition, the state says Nashville should follow the other districts in asking the court to address their right to education funding, rather than for a direct order to pay more money. “(Nashville) seeks a writ of mandamus that would require the General Assembly to provide funding to ELL teachers and translators in the ratios provided in (Tennessee Code),” the response reads. “… However, (Nashville) is not entitled to that writ.”
Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle’s order says:
While the state has been sued for proper education funding, those cases didn’t request the courts force the state to immediately appropriate funds, Lyle said in the court papers. Therefore, Lyle said there is no law to enforce.
“Such law must first be adjudicated before the writ can issue,” Lyle said.
In short, until a decision is rendered on the adequacy of the formula, the state can’t be compelled to fund the formula. Lawsuits filed by Shelby County and Hamilton County both claim the state’s funding formula is inadequate and seek a judgment based on that claim. Those cases are still moving forward.
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