Public school advocates announce lawsuit against state

old-school-signA controversial item in the current budget is the focus of a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

When the budget was approved last October, the state allocated 2.5 million dollars to reimburse private schools for state requirements like fire drills, background checks, and keeping inhalers in the buildings.

The lawsuit – filed by numerous public school advocates against the state and Governor Rick Snyder – says that is unconstitutional and asks for a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from giving out any funds until the court completes a full review of the case.

Michigan Association of School Boards is spearheading the lawsuit. Executive Director Don Wotruba said public schools already have “dwindling resources going into our schools just based on normal resources.”

“To see more money leaving for a purpose that we believe is unconstitutional, on behalf of our members we just felt it was important to stand up,” Wotruba said.

Detroit mom and member of a parent group, Wytrice Harris said allowing private schools to get public money is like “double-dipping.”

“We want quality schools, we want quality choices, we want everyone to be able to go wherever they want to go,” she said. “But we don’t want to distract or take away from our public schools in order for that to be done.”

But advocates of the reimbursement disagree. They argue that because the money is not going toward education or curriculum, it does not violate the constitution. Republican Representative Tim Kelly was an advocate of including the appropriation in the budget. He called the lawsuit unfortunate and sad.

“I’m tired of all this acrimony about what other students are doing,” he said. “We need to help all students all the time and it’s nonsense.”

Governor Rick Snyder previously asked the Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on the constitutionality of the reimbursement, but it refused.