Kanawha Cnty. Pub. Library Bd., Corp. v. Bd. of Educ. of the Cnty. of Kanawha

Decision Date22 February 2013
Docket Number11–1486.,Nos. 11–1224,s. 11–1224
Citation231 W.Va. 386,745 S.E.2d 424
CourtWest Virginia Supreme Court
PartiesKANAWHA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD, a public corporation; West Virginia Board of Education, a public corporation; and Dr. Jorea Marple, in her official capacity as Superintendent of Schools of the State of West Virginia, Intervenor/Defendants Below, Petitioners v. The BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the COUNTY OF KANAWHA, Plaintiff Below, Respondent.

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Held Unconstitutional

W.Va.Code § 18–9A–11

Recognized as Unconstitutional

West's Ann. W.Va.Code, 18–9A–12 (1993)

Syllabus by the Court

1. “The standard of review applicable to an appeal from a motion to alter or amend a judgment, made pursuant to W. Va. R. Civ. P. 59(e), is the same standard that would apply to the underlying judgment upon which the motion is based and from which the appeal to this Court is filed.” Syl. Pt. 1, Wickland v. American Travellers Life Ins. Co., 204 W.Va. 430, 513 S.E.2d 657 (1998).

2. “A circuit court's entry of summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Syl. Pt. 1, Painter v. Peavy, 192 W.Va. 189, 451 S.E.2d 755 (1994).

3. “Where the issue on an appeal from the circuit court is clearly a question of law ... we apply a de novo standard of review.” Syl. Pt. 1, in part, Chrystal R.M. v. Charlie A.L., 194 W.Va. 138, 459 S.E.2d 415 (1995).

4. “Equal protection of the law is implicated when a classification treats similarly situated persons in a disadvantageous manner. The claimed discrimination must be a product of state action as distinguished from a purely private activity.” Syl. Pt. 2, Israel v. West Virginia Secondary Sch. Activities Comm'n, 182 W.Va. 454, 388 S.E.2d 480 (1989).

5. To establish jus tertii standing to vindicate the constitutional rights of a third party, a litigant must (1) have suffered an injury in fact; (2) have a close relation to the third party; and (3) demonstrate some hindrance to the third party's ability to protect his or her own interests.

6. “At a minimum, the party making an informal Rule 56(f) motion must satisfy four requirements. It should (1) articulate some plausible basis for the party's belief that specified “discoverable” material facts likely exist which have not yet become accessible to the party; (2) demonstrate some realistic prospect that the material facts can be obtained within a reasonable additional time period; (3) demonstrate that the material facts will, if obtained, suffice to engender an issue both genuine and material; and (4) demonstrate good cause for failure to have conducted the discovery earlier.” Syl. Pt. 1, in part, Powderidge Unit Owners Ass'n v. Highland Properties, Ltd., 196 W.Va. 692, 474 S.E.2d 872 (1996).

7. ‘In considering the constitutionality of a legislative enactment, courts must exercise due restraint, in recognition of the principle of the separation of powers in government among the judicial, legislative and executive branches. Every reasonable construction must be resorted to by the courts in order to sustain constitutionality, and any reasonable doubt must be resolved in favor of the constitutionality of the legislative enactment in question....’ Syllabus Point 1, Appalachian Power Co. v. Gainer, 149 W.Va. 740, 143 S.E.2d 351 (1965).” Syl. Pt. 2, in part, Hartley Hill Hunt Club v. County Commission of Ritchie County, 220 W.Va. 382, 647 S.E.2d 818 (2007).

8. “The mandatory requirements of ‘a thorough and efficient system of free schools' found in Article XII, Section 1 of the West Virginia Constitution, make education a fundamental, constitutional right in this State.” Syl. Pt. 3, Pauley v. Kelly, 162 W.Va. 672, 255 S.E.2d 859 (1979).

9. “Because education is a fundamental, constitutional right in this State, under our Equal Protection Clause any discriminatory classification found in the State's educational financing system cannot stand unless the State can demonstrate some compelling State interest to justify the unequal classification.” Syl. Pt. 4, Pauley v. Kelly, 162 W.Va. 672, 255 S.E.2d 859 (1979).

10. “A statute that creates a lack of uniformity in the State's educational financing system is subject to strict scrutiny, and this discrimination will be upheld only if necessary to further a compelling state interest.” Syl. Pt. 4, Bd. of Educ. of the Cnty. of Kanawha v. West Virginia Bd. Of Educ., 219 W.Va. 801, 639 S.E.2d 893 (2006).

11. “W. Va.Code § 18–9A–12 (1993), to the extent that it fails to provide that a county school board's allocated state aid share shall be adjusted to account for the fact that a portion of the county school board's local share is required by law to be used to support a non-school purpose, violates equal protection principles because it operates to treat county school boards required by law to provide financial support to non-school purposes less favorably than county school boards with no such requirement.” Syl. Pt. 6, Bd. Of Educ. of the Cnty. of Kanawha v. West Virginia Bd. of Educ., 219 W.Va. 801, 639 S.E.2d 893 (2006).

12. W. Va.Code § 18–9A–11 (2008), as amended, to the extent that it creates a lack of uniformity in the educational financing system by requiring counties set forth in W. Va.Code § 18–9A–11(g)(1) through (9) to pay their respective “Special Act mandatory library funding obligations from their discretionary retainage or transfer the obligation to their excess levies, violates equal protection and is therefore, unconstitutional and unenforceable.

13. Chapter 178 of the Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1957 (also known as the Kanawha Special Act), insofar only as pertains to the obligation of the Kanawha County Board of Education to divert a portion of its regular or excess levy receipts to the Kanawha County Public Library Board, is unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Christopher J. Winton, Esq., Ray, Winton & Kelley, PLLC, Larry L. Rowe, Esq., Charleston, WV, for Kanawha County Public Library Board.

Albert F. Sebok, Esq., Jonathan L. Anderson, Esq., Jackson Kelly PLLC, Charleston, WV, for Respondent.

Patrick Morrisey, Esq., Attorney General, Kelli Talbott, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Charleston, WV, for West Virginia Board of Education and Dr. Jorea Marple.

Benjamin L. Bailey, Esq., Bailey & Glasser, LLP, Charleston, WV, for Amicus Curiae West Virginia Library Association.

Anthony I. Werner, Esq., Bachmann, Hess, Bachmann & Garden, PLLC, Jeffrey A. Holmstrand, Esq., David S. Givens, Flaherty, Sensabaugh, Bonasso, PLLC, Wheeling, WV, for Amici Curiae The Ohio County Public Library and other interested West Virginia Public Libraries.

WORKMAN, Justice:

This is an appeal of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County's September 27, 2011, order refusing to set aside its July 28, 2011, orders denying the motion to dismiss of the petitioner/intervenor below, Kanawha County Public Library Board (hereinafter the Library), and granting summary judgment and injunctive relief in favor of respondent/plaintiff below, The Board of Education of the County of Kanawha (hereinafter the Kanawha County BOE). The July 28, 2011, orders 1) found that the Kanawha County BOE had standing to bring the underlying equal protection challenge and 2) invalidated as unconstitutional W. Va.Code § 18–9A–11 (2008) and Chapter 178 of the Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1957 (hereinafter the Kanawha Special Act) to the extent that they require the Kanawha County BOE to divert a portion of its regular levy receipts in support of the Library or transfer the funding obligation to its excess levy. The order further enjoined both the Library and petitioners/defendants below, the West Virginia Board of Education and Dr. Jorea Marple (hereinafter the “West Virginia BOE,” collectively) from enforcing or attempting to enforce the requirements of W. Va.Code § 18–9A–11 and the Kanawha Special Act as same pertain to the Kanawha County BOE's library funding obligation. Upon consideration of the briefs 1 and oral argument, the record submitted, and pertinent authorities, we affirm the ruling of the circuit court.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This case arises out of the West Virginia Legislature's response to this Court's 2006 opinion in Board of Education of the County of Kanawha v. West Virginia Board of Education, 219 W.Va. 801, 639 S.E.2d 893 (2006) (hereinafter “Board I ”), which held that W. Va.Code § 18–9A–12 (1993) was unconstitutional. The underlying litigation involves, in general, the Legislature's enactment of “SpecialActs” for nine county boards of education requiring them to divert a portion of their regular levy receipts in support of their local public libraries (hereinafter “Special Act Libraries” or “Special Act Counties”).2 The Kanawha Special Act was passed in 1957. Chapter 178 of the Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1957. The Kanawha Special Act requires the City of Charleston, Kanawha County Commission, and Kanawha County BOE to contribute to the funding of the Kanawha County Public Library.3Id.

In 2003, the Kanawha County BOE sought declaratory and injunctive relief from the Circuit Court of Kanawha County on the basis that the requirement that it divert a portion of its regular levy receipts to the Library violated equal protection. Board I, 219 W.Va. at 805, 639 S.E.2d at 897. In particular, the Kanawha County BOE argued that, unlike non-Special Act Counties, it was being denied a portion of its “basic foundation program.” Id. The “basic foundation program” is comprised of seven categories of expenses delineated in W. Va.Code § 18–9A–3, the sum of which makes up a county's minimum educational expense needs, such as salaries for educators, service professionals, transportation, administrative costs, and the like. The basic foundation program is funded by a “local share”—paid from the estimated tax revenue produced by levies, at specified rates, on all real property situate in the county as set forth in W. Va.Code § 18–9A–11—and a “State share.” After the...

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