William Penn SD et al. v. Pa. Dept. of Education et al. (Pa. Commonwealth Court, 2018)
A chronology of the case: The lawsuit filed in 2014 on behalf of parents, school districts, and statewide organizations in response to the failure of Pennsylvania’s legislature to adequately and equitably fund public education was remanded to Commonwealth Court by the state Supreme Court in September 2017.
Following oral argument on March 7, 2018, Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled in our favor on May 7 in this case, overruling a set of objections filed by state legislative leaders and moving our school funding lawsuit closer to trial. The court spelled out the next steps in the case, directing the parties to address two issues before it goes to trial: Whether the state’s adoption of education funding formula renders the case moot and whether education is an important or fundamental right under Pennsylvania law. Read more in the May 7, 2018, News Release.
Our brief filed July 6 refuted the argument made by respondent Sen. Scarnati that the funding formula renders the case moot, pointing out the decline in funding available for classroom expenses and the widening gaps in spending between low-wealth and high-wealth districts. Read more in the July 6, 2018, News Release. The respondents also filed briefs on whether the case is moot, as described in the August 7, 2018, News Release.
The court denied the respondents’ petition to dismiss the case as moot in an order issued August 21, 2018, clearing the way for the case to move toward trial, as described in this news release.
In a scheduling order issued on December 6, 2018, the court set a tentative trial date for summer 2020, with discovery to be concluded by October 2019, as described in this news release. In September 2019, the parties agreed to a two-month extension of deadlines.
Key court documents:
Commonwealth Court Order Setting Oral Argument (1/31/2018)
Decision Overruling Preliminary Objections (5/7/2018)
Response of Senator Scarnati on Mootness (8/3/2018)
Response of Governor Wolf on Mootness (8/3/2018)
Scarnati Application for Decision on Mootness (8/13/2018)
Answer and New Matter: State Board of Education (9/20/2018)
Answer and New Matter: Sen. Scarnati (9/19/2018)
Answer and New Matter: Rep. Turzai (9/19/2018)
Answer and New Matter: Gov. Wolf (9/19/2018)
Opposition to Scheduling Conference: Rep. Turzai (9/21/2018)
Scheduling Order (12/6/2018)
Order Granting Application for Extension (9/12/2019)
Order Granting Application for Extension (11/20/2019)
Order Granting Application for Extension (1/24/2020)
Order Granting Application for Extension (3/20/2020)
Order Granting Application for Extension (5/28/2020)
Order Filed for Oral Argument (5/29/2020)