Edgewood Independent School Dist. v. Kirby, No. D-0378

CourtSupreme Court of Texas
Writing for the CourtPHILLIPS; Concurring opinion on motion for rehearing by DOGGETT; GONZALEZ; GAMMAGE; DOGGETT; MAUZY, J., joins in this concurrence and GAMMAGE
Parties66 Ed. Law Rep. 496 EDGEWOOD INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al. v. William N. KIRBY, et al
Decision Date22 January 1991
Docket NumberNo. D-0378

Page 491

804 S.W.2d 491
66 Ed. Law Rep. 496
EDGEWOOD INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, et al.
v.
William N. KIRBY, et al.
No. D-0378.
Jan. 22, 1991.
Rehearing Overruled Feb. 27, 1991.

Page 492

David R. Richards, Austin, Richard E. Gray, III, Albert H. Kauffman, San Antonio, Roger Rice, Somerville, Mass., Norma V. Cantu, Albert H. Kauffman, Antonia Hernandez, Guadalupe T. Luna, San Antonio, David Hall, Weslaco, for petitioners.

Earl Luna, Robert E. Luna, Dallas, Jerry Hoodenpyle, Lynn Rossi Scott, Roger L. Hurlbut, Arlington, Kevin T. O'Hanlon, Mary F. Keller, Austin, for respondents.

OPINION

PHILLIPS, Chief Justice.

We have previously held in this case that the state public school finance system violates

Page 493

article VII, section 1 of the Texas Constitution. 777 S.W.2d 391 ("Edgewood I "). Now we decide whether this violation remains following enactment of Senate Bill 1 by the 71st Legislature. 1 We hold that it does.
I

This action commenced in May 1984 when numerous school districts and individuals sought a judicial declaration that the state public school finance system was unconstitutional. After trial on the merits in 1987, the district court found that the system violated the Texas Constitution in several respects and enjoined the State from funding it after September 1, 1989, unless the Legislature repaired the constitutional defects by that date. The court of appeals reversed the district court's judgment in December 1988. 761 S.W.2d 859. On October 2, 1989, this Court in Edgewood I reversed the judgment of the court of appeals and reinstated the injunction issued by the district court, but postponed its effect until May 1, 1990. On that date, state funding of public schools was to cease unless the Legislature conformed the system to the requirements of the Constitution. 777 S.W.2d 391.

The district court extended the May 1 deadline 2 to allow the Legislature to complete its work on what became Senate Bill 1, which the Governor signed into law June 7, 1990. 3 Once Senate Bill 1 became law, plaintiffs returned to the district court seeking both a declaration that the system remained unconstitutional and an order enforcing the injunction affirmed by this Court in Edgewood I. After a lengthy hearing, the district court found that despite the changes in Senate Bill 1, the school finance system remained unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the district court vacated our injunction and denied any other injunctive relief or enforcement of this Court's mandate. The district court stated in its judgment that it would not entertain requests for further relief until it became apparent that the Legislature would not adopt a constitutional school funding system to be implemented beginning September 1, 1991.

Plaintiffs now seek relief from this judgment, arguing in substance that the district court exceeded its authority by vacating this Court's injunction and postponing consideration of further injunctive relief. Defendant state officials also complain by cross-appeal that the district court erred in finding that the school finance system continues to violate the Constitution after enactment of Senate Bill 1. Defendant-intervenor school districts challenge the Court's jurisdiction to consider any of these contentions. 4

II

At the outset we must determine whether our jurisdiction has been properly invoked. Plaintiffs, plaintiff-intervenors and defendant state officials all assert that they are entitled to appeal the district

Page 494

court's judgment directly to this Court, based upon article V, section 3-b of the Constitution 5 and section 22.001(c) of the Government Code. 6 Defendant-intervenors counter that the district court's judgment is not one from which a direct appeal is authorized by these constitutional and statutory provisions. We need not pass on these contentions because we conclude that the parties are properly before us for other reasons.

By our judgment in Edgewood I, the injunction originally issued by the district court and affirmed as modified by this Court became an order of both this Court and the district court. See State v. Walker, 679 S.W.2d 484, 485 (Tex.1984); City of Tyler v. St. Louis Southwestern Ry., 405 S.W.2d 330, 332 (Tex.1966). As the district court recognized, it was obliged to observe and enforce our judgment as rendered in the absence of changed conditions. Id. It is not for us to ascertain in the first instance whether conditions have changed since Edgewood I; that determination must be made by the district court, which can hear evidence, subpoena witnesses and make findings. Id. The district court's decision is reviewable on appeal. Id. However, we also have the power to enforce our mandate by mandamus if we can determine, without resolving factual disputes, that conditions have not changed and that the district court abused its discretion. See Walker, 679 S.W.2d at 485; see also Texas Aeronautics Comm'n v. Betts, 469 S.W.2d 394, 399 (Tex.1971); Conley v. Anderson, 164 S.W. 985, 986 (Tex.1913); Wells v. Littlefield, 62 Tex. 29, 30-31 (1884). As we said in City of Tyler: "in the absence of changed conditions it is the duty of the trial court to enforce the judgment [of this Court] as entered; and, if necessary, this Court can compel its enforcement." 405 S.W.2d at 332.

The district court concluded as a matter of law that Senate Bill 1 does not change the school finance system condemned in Edgewood I, and thus that the Legislature had not met its constitutional obligations. In this regard, the district court found no change in conditions since Edgewood I. The district court vacated our injunction, however, on the equitable grounds of deference to the Legislature and avoidance of disruption to public education. These equitable considerations are not changed conditions. They have been present throughout this litigation, and this Court was fully mindful of them in Edgewood I. Only this Court, not the courts below, may decide that for policy reasons our mandate should be modified or vacated. Conley, 164 S.W. at 986.

Plaintiffs request this Court to enforce its mandate. We have not only the power but the duty to enforce our mandate upon the request of a party if we determine that the district court acted improperly. See Wells, 62 Tex. at 30-31. We therefore treat this proceeding as being in the nature of an original mandamus proceeding to direct the district court to reinstate our injunction. If as a matter of law the district court was correct in its determination that the constitutional violation in the school finance system which we found in Edgewood I continues, then it clearly abused its discretion in vacating our injunction. Accordingly, we consider whether the school finance system remains unconstitutional following Senate Bill 1.

III

Senate Bill 1 does make certain improvements in public school finance. It attempts to realize the long-articulated objective

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of assuring school districts substantially similar educational revenue for similar levels of local tax effort 7 by providing for a wide array of biennial studies to detect deviations from fiscal neutrality and inform senior policy makers when increased state funding is required. 8 These policy makers then recommend to the Legislature the amount of funds that should be allocated for public education for the succeeding biennium. Thus, for the first time, the system contains a mandate for biennial adjustment, based upon information from a battery of studies, with the intention of preventing the opportunity gap between poor and rich districts from re-widening each time legislative action narrows it.

However, Senate Bill 1 leaves essentially intact the same funding system with the same deficiencies we reviewed in Edgewood I. Senate Bill 1 maintains the basic two-tiered education finance structure known as the Foundation School Program. The first tier is a basic allotment designed to enable all districts to provide a basic education to all pupils. Each district that taxes itself at or above a minimum level is guaranteed a certain base level of funding, composed of state and local revenue, per weighted student in average daily attendance. 9 The second tier is the guaranteed yield or equalized enrichment tier, which is designed to equalize the ability of school districts to raise revenue to supplement their basic allotment. At this tier, all districts receive a guaranteed revenue per weighted student for each cent of local tax effort above the tier one minimum level. The State funds the difference between the guaranteed revenue and the amount each cent of local tax effort generates. If a district is so wealthy that each cent of tax effort generates more than the guaranteed revenue per weighted student, it receives no tier two revenue from the State. 10 To maximize their entitlement to state funding under tiers one and two, Senate Bill 1 contains incentives for most school districts to set their effective local tax rates at or above a state-designated minimum level. 11

The State asserts that as districts respond to these incentives and as it shifts more of its funds to lower wealth districts, Senate Bill 1 will achieve substantial equity among the districts that educate 95% of our students. The State maintains that excluding the districts with the wealthiest 5% of the students is reasonable and within the Edgewood I requirement of "substantially equal access to similar revenues per pupil at similar levels of tax effort." 777 S.W.2d at 397. It argues that the annual cost of equalizing all districts to the revenue levels attainable by the richest districts would be approximately four times the annual cost

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of operating the entire state government. Even if the incentives in the new law do not produce the anticipated results, the State contends that the newly mandated studies will lead to increased state funding, which will in turn produce equity. Plaintiffs complain of both the manner in...

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37 practice notes
  • Smith v. Travis County Educ. Dist., Civ. No. A-92-CA-75
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • May 1, 1992
    ...school finance system. See generally: Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby, 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex. 1989) ("Edgewood I"); and 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex.1991) ("Edgewood II"). The Edgewood III decision pertains directly to the present cause of In Edgewood III, the main issue before the Texas......
  • Texas Ass'n of Business v. Texas Air Control Bd., No. C-9556
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • March 3, 1993
    ...contrasts markedly with the eagerness to issue this very type of writing within the last year. See Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 804 S.W.2d 491, 501 (Tex.1991) (Doggett, J., concurring); Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist., 826 S.W.2d 489, 537 (T......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...Notes: 1. See Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex.1989) [Edgewood I]; Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex.1991) [Edgewood II]; Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist., 826 S.W.2d 489 (Tex.1992) [Edgewood III]; Edgew......
  • DeRolph v. State, No. 95-2066
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 24, 1997
    ...Indep. School Dist. v. Kirby (Tex.1989), 777 S.W.2d 391 ("Edgewood I "), followed by Edgewood Indep. School Dist. v. Kirby (Tex.1991), 804 S.W.2d 491 ("Edgewood II "); Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. School Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. School Dist. (Tex.1992), 826 S.W.2d 489 ("Edgewood III ");......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Smith v. Travis County Educ. Dist., Civ. No. A-92-CA-75
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
    • May 1, 1992
    ...school finance system. See generally: Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby, 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex. 1989) ("Edgewood I"); and 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex.1991) ("Edgewood II"). The Edgewood III decision pertains directly to the present cause of In Edgewood III, the main issue before the Texas......
  • Texas Ass'n of Business v. Texas Air Control Bd., No. C-9556
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • March 3, 1993
    ...contrasts markedly with the eagerness to issue this very type of writing within the last year. See Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 804 S.W.2d 491, 501 (Tex.1991) (Doggett, J., concurring); Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist., 826 S.W.2d 489, 537 (T......
  • Neeley v. West Orange-Cove, No. 04-1144.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • December 16, 2005
    ...Notes: 1. See Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex.1989) [Edgewood I]; Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex.1991) [Edgewood II]; Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist., 826 S.W.2d 489 (Tex.1992) [Edgewood III]; Edgew......
  • DeRolph v. State, No. 95-2066
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Ohio
    • March 24, 1997
    ...Indep. School Dist. v. Kirby (Tex.1989), 777 S.W.2d 391 ("Edgewood I "), followed by Edgewood Indep. School Dist. v. Kirby (Tex.1991), 804 S.W.2d 491 ("Edgewood II "); Carrollton-Farmers Branch Indep. School Dist. v. Edgewood Indep. School Dist. (Tex.1992), 826 S.W.2d 489 ("Edgewood III ");......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • GLIMPSES OF REPRESENTATION-REINFORCEMENT IN STATE COURTS.
    • United States
    • Constitutional Commentary Vol. 36 Nbr. 2, September 2021
    • September 22, 2021
    ...to be substantially equal); Edgewood Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Kirby, 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex. 1989), subsequent mandamus proceeding, 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex. 1991) (striking down Texas' property-lax based system, because il resulted in district spending varying from $2,112 lo $19,333 per student, depen......

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