Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity By and Through Eikum v. Idaho State Bd. of Educ. By and Through Mossman

Decision Date07 March 1996
Docket NumberNo. 21818,21818
Citation128 Idaho 276,912 P.2d 644
Parties, 107 Ed. Law Rep. 1010 IDAHO SCHOOLS FOR EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY, an unincorporated association of superintendents of schools, By and Through John J. EIKUM, Roger Swanson, Richard Peters, L. Eldon Taylor and Donald Armstrong; Brian Silflow and Ganel Silflow, by and through their parents Dale and Patti Silflow, husband and wife; Donald Paul Crea, by and through his father Gary Crea; Andy Cook, by and through his father Larry Prally; Tavia Gilbert, by and through her parents Terry and Carolyn Gilbert; Gregory Lamm, by and through his mother Kathy Lamm; Sara Kae Gomez, by and through her parents Kathleen and Jose Gomez; Dietrich Stella and Jennifer Stella, by and through their parents Charles and Rebecca Stella; Gregory Daniels, by and through his mother Nancy Daniels; Gina M. Decker, by and through her parents Gene and Linda Decker; Jennifer A. Alder, by and through her parents Max and Judy Alder; Angela F. Gerrard, by and through her parents Roger and Rhoda Gerrard; Catherine A. Sporleder, by and through her mother Joanne Sporleder; Morgan Rounds and Seth Rounds, by and through their parents Ivan Rounds and Brenda Rounds; Kelli Longeteig, by and through her parents Willfred Longeteig and Beverly Longeteig; Don Hoffer, by and through his mother Kit Hoffer; Sarah Malloy, by and through her mother Susie Malloy; Kory Turnbow, by and through his mother Donagene Turnbow; Shawna Olsen, Shannon Olsen, and Ryan Olsen, by and through their mother Teresa Olsen; on behalf of themselves and all other school people of the State of Idaho similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, and Moscow School District # 281; Lapwai School District # 341; Mullan School District # 392; Potlatch School District # 285; Whitepine Jt. School District # 286; Kendrick Jt. School District # 283; Kootenai School District # 274; Cascade School District # 422; St. Maries Jt. School District # 41; Orofino Jt. School District # 171; Culdesac Jt. School District # 342; Genesee Jt. School District # 28
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

Givens Pursley & Huntley, Boise, for Appellants. Robert C. Huntley argued.

Alan G. Lance, Attorney General; Michael S. Gilmore, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for Respondents. Michael S. Gilmore argued.

SILAK, Justice.

This is the second appeal in the appellants' suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the method and level of funding of public education in Idaho. The first appeal, Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity v. Evans, 123 Idaho 573, 850 P.2d 724 (1993) (ISEEO I ), resulted in a remand of the case to the district court. The second appeal is from the summary judgment of the district court dismissing appellants' fourth amended complaint as moot. We vacate the summary judgment and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 21, 1990, a declaratory judgment action was filed by the appellants Idaho Schools for Equal Educational Opportunity (ISEEO), an unincorporated association of school superintendents, and by certain school districts, students, citizens and taxpayers against respondents Jerry L. Evans, the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Legislature (collectively the State). The complaint alleged that the method and level of school funding then in existence was inadequate to provide the constitutionally required "uniform" and "thorough" education pursuant to art. 9, § 1 of the Idaho Constitution. A similar suit was filed on September 20, 1990, by the Frazier-Meridian plaintiffs (another group of students, parents and school districts), which was consolidated with the initial suit filed by the ISEEO. On March 12, 1992, the district court issued a memorandum opinion and order granting the State's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. ISEEO and the other plaintiffs appealed to this Court.

On March 18, 1993, this Court issued its decision in ISEEO I. The Court held the following: (1) pursuant to Thompson v. Engelking, 96 Idaho 793, 537 P.2d 635 (1975), the system of school funding did not violate the "uniformity" requirement of the education clause of art. 9, § 1 of the Idaho Constitution; (2) that the equal protection clause was not violated by the current school funding system; (3) that the citizen/taxpayer plaintiffs did not have standing to sue; and (4) that Thompson did not decide whether The Court made the following additional holdings with respect to the thoroughness issue: (1) that the judicial branch has the responsibility to determine whether Idaho's system of education meets the thoroughness requirements of art. 9, § 1; (2) that the politically difficult task of defining thoroughness has been simplified because the executive branch (the State Board of Education (the Board)) has already promulgated educational standards under the legislative directive of I.C. § 33-118; (3) that the standards of the Board's Rules and Regulations for Public Schools, K-12, IDAPA 08.02, for school facilities, instructional programs and textbooks, and transportation, are consistent with the thoroughness requirements of the Idaho Constitution; (4) that the Court's holding of the consistency of the IDAPA standards with a definition of thoroughness is limited to the standards as they existed at the time the opinion was issued, the Court expressing no opinion as to whether the IDAPA standards would be consistent with that definition if the Board were to amend them; and (5) that if the ISEEO were able to prove that school districts cannot meet the standards established by the Board with the funds provided under the current funding system, they will have presented a prima facie case that the State has not established and maintained a system of thorough education. The Court thus vacated the district court's order dismissing the thoroughness claims and remanded for further proceedings.

[128 Idaho 280] the "thoroughness" requirement of the education clause was violated in that case and therefore did not foreclose the ISEEO's suit.

On remand, following a status conference, the district court allowed the parties to amend their pleadings. ISEEO filed a third amended complaint which eliminated an allegation referring to inequality of public school funding among districts, a theory rejected in ISEEO I, and the State filed counterclaims contending that the school districts must allocate their available resources to comply with the Board rules before asking for additional state assistance.

ISEEO and the State both moved for summary judgment, and ISEEO moved to dismiss the State's counterclaims. ISEEO withdrew its motion for summary judgment on the day of argument. The district court later heard argument on the State's motion for summary judgment and issued its memorandum opinion and order on January 11, 1994, denying the motion and denying ISEEO's motion to dismiss the State's counterclaims.

ISEEO filed a fourth amended complaint on April 1, 1994, which added plaintiffs, and a notice of intent to proceed with trial and request for a trial date on May 20, 1994. The State then filed a motion for declaration of mootness and dismissal of proceeding as moot on June 15, 1994, which was later replaced by a motion for summary judgment on the ground of mootness on August 2, 1994. The State argued that the lawsuit had become moot due to legislative enactments regarding...

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