Georgia Attorney General Rules School Group Illegal

Last Updated: May 05, 2009

This article appeared in the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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The organization that brought a school finance lawsuit in Georgia has been declared illegal by the state’s attorney general in an opinion solicited by the governor. The Consortium for Adequate School Funding (CASFG), which had almost 50 school districts as members, filed a lawsuit challenging the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula that the state uses to determine the amount of money allotted to each school system per student. The QBE is meant to supplement the number of tax dollars a district receives locally and has not kept up with inflation.
The group successfully survived a motion to dismiss their suit by the state. Then, the judge that had presided over the suit was transferred from the case and a new judge assigned to it. In response, the Consortium withdrew their suit. In what has been called a “scare tactic,” Governor Sonny Perdue then asked the attorney general to issue an opinion on the legality of districts using state money in the suit. The recent opinion was in response to that request.
The Consortium maintained that those issues had been decided by earlier court decisions that allowed the case to proceed. In a press release following the announcement of the opinion, the Consortium responded that it is not illegal for school boards to sue the state, but for school boards to create an entity to do so and that CASFG was not created by school boards.
CASFG is reorganizing as a membership organization for individuals, and has a new name: Georgia School Funding Association. The organization will conduct research, provide information to the public, and take other initiatives to improve the financing of Georgia schools. A new lawsuit has been prepared using much of the fact finding that already took place about the conditions in schools. However, the focus of the revised legal action will focus on systemic failure in Georgia, not on specific school systems. The goal of the litigation is to secure a reasonable process for the state to meet its constitutional requirements. Georgia rural schools have been especially hard-hit by budget cuts and the economic crisis.
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Read more from the April 2009 Rural Policy Matters.