Shoots Down 'Durant IV'
MIRS, August 5, 2005
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The Court of
Appeals ruled today that school districts failed to prove that
the state pushed an unfunded mandate on them in 2000 when former
Gov. John Engler created the Center for Education Performance
and Information (CEPI), but didn't give school districts the
money to run the program.
In siding with the state in Adair v. Michigan (No. 230858), the
Court of Appeals all but put the death nail in the case known as
"Durant IV." The case was so dubbed because it was the fourth
high-profile suit in which school districts claimed the state
violated the Headlee Amendment by dumping responsibilities on
them without the money to pay for it. In the first three, the
plaintiff's name was Durant.
The fourth was spurred by Executive Order 2000-9 when Engler
created CEPI and the Database for Educational Performance
Education (DEPE) and ordered schools to give the state certain
student test scores so the information could be put on the
Daniel ADAIR, then-president of the Fitzgerald Public Schools
Board, along with 464 school districts and taxpayers, filed suit
against the state in November 2000.
The state argued, however, that it has broad powers to require
school districts to submit data and that these reports it was
asking for had always been required. The fact that it wanted
these reports electronically shouldn't be considered an expense
that triggers the Headlee Amendment.
The school districts provided evidence that school districts
were forced to acquire new equipment and devote more staff time
to collecting, maintaining and transmitting the data, but the
court said it doesn't matter because the increased cost wasn't
for a "new activity or service."
The Headlee Amendment's ban against unfunded mandates was an
attempt to stop the state from passing off its responsibilities
to locals without paying for it. In this case, the state isn't
offloading any obligations to the locals, the court ruled.
Appellate Judges Michael TALBOT, Henry William SAAD and Karen
Fort HOOD signed the decision.
Court Rejects Suit on School Board Reports
Gongwer News Service, August 5, 2005
Not every change in required school activities invokes Headlee
Amendment provisions for state reimbursement of costs, a
unanimous panel of the Court of Appeals has ruled in turning
aside claims by several hundred districts for costs of
maintaining records in an information database created in 2000.
The case (Adair v. State of Michigan, COA docket No. 230858) is
the latest installment of the long-running dispute brought by
schools against the state regarding unfunded mandates, the
genesis of which was an ultimately successful claim for funds
for special education.
The suit has already been up to the Supreme Court, which ruled
in 2004 that the record-keeping requirement for the new Center
for Educational Performance and Information was a new mandate
and sent the matter back to the Court of Appeals for a
determination of whether compensation is owed.
In the ruling released Friday, the appellate court said the
schools "failed to present documentary support from which it can
be inferred that either (state law or an Executive Order
creating CEPI) mandates the school districts to actively
participate in the maintenance of data that the state requires
for its own purposes."
The court agreed that the data involved was required prior to
the settlement of the special education case, which resolved all
claims of underfunded activities, and that the data existed at
the districts as a byproduct of normal operations.
The schools had contended that while some of the data was
maintained, the records and data reported required by CEPI
represented a dramatic increase in district activity.
While the court agreed the data provisions meant schools had to
acquire new equipment and devote increased staff time to the
generating the proper reports, it said the Headlee amendment is
not implicated because it stands as a guard against the state
shifting its costs back to local entities such as schools.
What the schools failed to prove, wrote Judge Michael Talbot, is
"that the new data they are now required to collect and maintain
is data for which the districts have no use and would not
otherwise collect and maintain but for the dictates of the CEPI."
The opinion was signed by Judges Henry Saad and Karen Hood.
Dennis Pollard, attorney for the schools, had just received the
decision and declined immediate comment.
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