News Room

Commonwealth Court decision on Pa. school funding appealed

May 20, 2015 – by Eleanor Chute, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Six school districts, seven parents and two statewide associations have taken to the state Supreme Court their case to force the state to provide adequate and equitable school funding for all children.

The organizations today filed their appeal of last month’s Commonwealth Court decision which said the power to make decisions on school funding rests with the General Assembly, not the courts. The plaintiffs in the case known as William Penn School District, et al, v. Department of Education, et al, maintain that state officials are failing to meet their constitutional obligation for an adequate and fair system of public education.

The case was filed in November by seven parents, the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools, the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, and six districts: William Penn School District, Panther Valley School District, School District of Lancaster, Greater Johnstown School District, Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Shenandoah Valley School District.

The districts and parents are represented by the Public Interest Law Center and the Education Law Center-PA. When the Commonwealth Court decision was announced last month, the plaintiffs vowed to take it to the top court in the state.

In a news release, Jennifer Clarke, executive director of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, said, “Our Supreme Court bears the responsibility for ensuring that our most precious constitutional rights are protected. We hope that the high court will agree that this responsibility includes public education, the most important issue facing our Commonwealth.”

Also in the news release, Maura McInerney of the Education Law Center, said, “Today, many students across the state are finishing yet another school year without the basic resources they need to meet rigorous state-imposed standards. It is time for our courts to recognize the substantial developments that have taken place since previous lawsuits were heard and ensure that the legislature complies with its constitutional duty to provide a thorough and efficient system of public education. Pennsylvania’s public school students are entitled to their day in court.”

A copy of the appeal can be found at here.

Education writer Eleanor Chute: [email protected] or 412-263-1955.