Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM; MADDOX; HOUSTON; BUTTS; MADDOX; HOUSTON
Citation662 So.2d 894
Parties104 Ed. Law Rep. 1403 Joyce PINTO, et al. v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. Joyce PINTO, et al. v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. Robin SWIFT v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. Robin SWIFT v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. Walter ANDERTON, et al. v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. Walter ANDERTON, et al. v. ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al. 1931030, 1931031, 1931141, 1931142, 1931149 and 1931150.
Decision Date19 May 1995

Page 894

662 So.2d 894
104 Ed. Law Rep. 1403
Joyce PINTO, et al.
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
Joyce PINTO, et al.
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
Robin SWIFT
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
Robin SWIFT
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
Walter ANDERTON, et al.
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
Walter ANDERTON, et al.
v.
ALABAMA COALITION FOR EQUITY, et al.
1931030, 1931031, 1931141, 1931142, 1931149 and 1931150.
Supreme Court of Alabama.
May 19, 1995.

Thomas F. Parker IV and Samuel Adams, Montgomery, John Eidsmoe, Pike Road, for Pinto appellants.

Ted Pearson, Birmingham, for Anderton, Hall and Trucks appellants.

Richard N. Meadows, Denise B. Azar and Ashley H. Hamlett, Montgomery, for Alabama State Board of Education and State Superintendent of Education.

Thomas L. Stewart and Mary H. Thompson of Gorham, Stewart, Kendrick, Bryant & Battle, P.C., Birmingham, for Governor Jim Folsom, Jr.

PER CURIAM.

Joyce Pinto, Robin Swift, and Walter Anderton appeal as class-action representatives from a judgment of the Montgomery County Circuit Court denying their motions to intervene in these actions. We reverse and remand as to Pinto and Anderton, and we dismiss the appeals by Swift.

Page 895

The factual background of this case was broadly described in Opinion of the Justices No. 338, 624 So.2d 107 (Ala.1993). For the convenience of the reader, the factual statement is reproduced here (quoting the trial court's order as it was quoted in Opinion of the Justices No. 338 ):

"Plaintiffs in this action challenge[d] the constitutionality of Alabama's system of public elementary and secondary education, which they contend[ed did] not offer equitable and adequate educational opportunities to the schoolchildren of the state, including children with disabilities. They [sought] declaratory and injunctive relief from the constitutional and statutory violations alleged. Defendants den[ied] that the public school system [was] unlawful and [alleged] further that [the Montgomery County Circuit Court was not] the proper forum for resolution of this dispute.

"....

"These consolidated lawsuits were brought on behalf of schoolchildren, parents, and school systems throughout the state of Alabama. Plaintiff Alabama Coalition for Equity, Inc. (ACE), an Alabama non-profit corporation comprised of 25 school systems 1 and a number of individual parents and schoolchildren, filed [a] complaint on May 3, 1990.... Plaintiffs Mary Harper, et al. (Harper plaintiffs), a group of public schoolchildren, filed [a] complaint on January 19, 1991.... By order dated March 18, 1991, the [circuit court] consolidated these cases. Subsequently, on April 21, 1992, the [circuit court] certified a statewide class in the Harper action of all children who are presently enrolled or will be enrolled in public schools in Alabama that provide less than a minimally adequate education.

"John Doe, a disabled student, [and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program] moved to intervene ... in the ACE lawsuit on August 3, 1990, and the [circuit court] granted this motion on January 9, 1991. On July 24, 1992, the [circuit court] certified a plaintiff sub-class of all schoolchildren in Alabama aged three through 21 years with identified disabilities ['A.D.A.P. Class'].

"Plaintiffs in these consolidated actions named as defendants Governor Guy Hunt, State Director of Finance Robin Swift, Lieutenant Governor James Folsom, Speaker of the House of Representatives James Clark, State Superintendent of Education Wayne Teague, and the members of the Alabama State Board of Education ['SBOE']. However, the speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, the Lieutenant Governor, the State Superintendent of Education and all members of the State Board of Education moved in May and June, 1990, to realign as plaintiffs, indicating that they agreed with plaintiffs' claims. The [circuit court] granted these motions.

"The Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hoover, Madison, and Huntsville school systems filed petitions to intervene in this action. On January 9, 1991, the [circuit court] denied their motions to intervene, but granted them permission to submit amicus briefs, and to resubmit their petitions to intervene at a later date. The Alabama Association of School Boards and the Mobile and Decatur school systems were granted permission to appear as [amici] curiae. Shortly before trial, the Mountain Brook, Hoover, Homewood and Shelby County school systems filed a motion to appear as [amici] curiae on behalf of plaintiffs. A+, an organization dedicated to reforming and improving public education, filed an application for permission to file a brief supporting [the] plaintiffs as [an] amicus. The [circuit court] granted these motions.

"....

"The [circuit court] ... bifurcated the non-jury trial of this case into liability and remedy phases. Trial in the liability phase began on August 3, 1992 and concluded on August 27, 1992....

624 So.2d at 110-12 (footnote 1 in original; other footnotes omitted).

Page 896

On March 31, 1993, the court entered in the "liability phase" a judgment, which included the following findings and declarations (as quoted in Opinion of the Justices No. 338 ):

"1. That, pursuant to Ala. Const. art. I, §§ 1, 6, 13 and 22 [guaranteeing Alabama citizens equal protection of the laws] and art. XIV, § 256 [guaranteeing Alabama citizens access to a 'liberal system of public schools'], Alabama school-age children, including children with disabilities, have and enjoy a constitutional right to attend school in a liberal system of public schools, established, organized and maintained by the state, which shall provide all such schoolchildren with substantially equitable and adequate educational opportunities;

"2. That the essential principles and features of the 'liberal system of public schools' required by the Alabama Constitution include the following:

"(a) It is the responsibility of the state to establish, organize, and maintain the system of public schools;

"(b) the system of public schools shall extend throughout the state;

"(c) the public schools must be free and open to all schoolchildren on equal terms;

"(d) equitable and adequate educational opportunities shall be provided to all schoolchildren regardless of the wealth of the communities in which the schoolchildren reside: and

"(e) adequate educational opportunities shall consist of, at a minimum, an education that provides students with opportunity to attain the following:

"(i) sufficient oral and written communication skills to function in Alabama, and at the national and international levels, in the coming years;

"(ii) sufficient mathematic and scientific skills to function in Alabama, and at the national and international levels, in the coming years;

"(iii) sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems generally, and of the history, politics, and social structure of Alabama and the United States, specifically, to enable the student to make informed choices;

"(iv) sufficient understanding of governmental processes and of basic civic institutions to enable the student to understand and contribute to the issues that affect his or her community, state, and nation;

"(v) sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of principles of health and mental hygiene to enable the student to monitor and contribute to his or her own physical and mental well-being;

"(vi) sufficient understanding of the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural heritage and the cultural heritages of others;

"(vii) sufficient training, or preparation for advanced training, in academic or vocational skills, and sufficient guidance, to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently;

"(viii) sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in Alabama, in surrounding states, across the nation, and throughout the world, in academics or in the job market; and

"(ix) sufficient support and guidance so that every student feels a sense of self-worth and ability to achieve, and so that every student is encouraged to live up to his or her full human potential.

"3. That, pursuant to Ala.Code §§ 16-39-3 and 16-39A-2, Alabama schoolchildren with disabilities aged 3-21 have the right to appropriate instruction and special services;

"4. That the present system of public schools in Alabama violates the aforestated constitutional and statutory rights of plaintiffs;

"5. That the state officers charged by law with responsibility for the Alabama public school system, are hereby enjoined to establish, organize and maintain a system of public schools, that provides equitable and adequate educational opportunities to all school-age children, including children

Page 897

with disabilities, throughout the state in accordance with the constitutional mandates of Ala. Const. art. XIV, § 256; art. I, §§ 1, 6, 13 and 22; and to provide appropriate instruction and special services to children with disabilities aged three through twenty-one pursuant to Ala.Code §§ 16-39-3 and 16-39A-2....

624 So.2d at 165-66 (footnotes omitted).

On April 22, 1993, Governor Hunt was convicted of a felony; he was that day, by operation of law, removed from office, pursuant to Ala.Code 1975, § 36-9-2, and replaced by Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., pursuant to Ala. Const.1901, § 127. On May 28, 1993, the following parties moved to be realigned as defendants in their official capacities: (1) the speaker of the House of Representatives, James Clark; (2) the State superintendent of education, Wayne Teague; and (3) Alabama State Board of Education members John Tyson, Jr., Steadman Shealy, Jr., Dan Cleckler, Ethel Hall, Willie Paul, Betty Fine Collins, Victor Poole, and Tazewell Shepard. On June 8, 1993, Governor Folsom moved to be substituted formally as an official-capacity defendant in the place of former...

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20 practice notes
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 31, 2002
    ...free to exercise their discretion," 713 So.2d at 894, with regard to their school-funding duties); Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894, 900 (Ala.1995) (refusing to allow intervention to "reopen or relitigate the question of the constitutionality of the educational system");......
  • Smith v. Schulte
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • August 18, 1995
    ...the equal protection provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. See Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894 (Ala.1995) (Houston, J., concurring in the result); Moore v. Mobile Infirmary Ass'n, 592 So.2d 156, 174-78 (Ala.1991) (Houston, J., disagree......
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 10, 1997
    ...court proceedings in what has come to be known as the "Public School Equity Funding Case." See Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894 (Ala.1995); and Opinion of the Justices No. 333, 624 So.2d 107 (Ala.1993). Those two opinions adequately set forth the facts underlying this di......
  • Ex parte Melof
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 28, 1999
    ...J., dissenting); Smith v. Schulte, 671 So.2d 1334, 1347-48 (Ala.1995) (Maddox, J., dissenting); Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894, 901-10 (Ala.1995) (Houston, J., concurring in the result); Ex parte St. Vincent's Hosp., 652 So.2d 225, 230-31 (Ala.1994) (Houston, J., concu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 31, 2002
    ...free to exercise their discretion," 713 So.2d at 894, with regard to their school-funding duties); Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894, 900 (Ala.1995) (refusing to allow intervention to "reopen or relitigate the question of the constitutionality of the educational system");......
  • Smith v. Schulte
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • August 18, 1995
    ...the equal protection provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. See Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894 (Ala.1995) (Houston, J., concurring in the result); Moore v. Mobile Infirmary Ass'n, 592 So.2d 156, 174-78 (Ala.1991) (Houston, J., disagree......
  • Ex parte James
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 10, 1997
    ...court proceedings in what has come to be known as the "Public School Equity Funding Case." See Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894 (Ala.1995); and Opinion of the Justices No. 333, 624 So.2d 107 (Ala.1993). Those two opinions adequately set forth the facts underlying this di......
  • Ex parte Melof
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 28, 1999
    ...J., dissenting); Smith v. Schulte, 671 So.2d 1334, 1347-48 (Ala.1995) (Maddox, J., dissenting); Pinto v. Alabama Coalition for Equity, 662 So.2d 894, 901-10 (Ala.1995) (Houston, J., concurring in the result); Ex parte St. Vincent's Hosp., 652 So.2d 225, 230-31 (Ala.1994) (Houston, J., concu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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