Oklahoma City, Tulsa districts intervene in funding lawsuit
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts are intervening in a lawsuit by the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association against the state Board of Education over inequities in funding.
The Oklahoma City Public Schools has requested an emergency stay in the lawsuit, the Tulsa World reported. The Tulsa school board has also authorized its attorneys to file for legal intervention.
The lawsuit filed by the association in July is requesting that “funding between all public schools be equalized to assure equal education opportunities.”
Public schools are funded through several local, state and federal sources. Charter schools are mainly funded through state aid.
The association argues that charter schools are receiving hundreds of dollars less in state-issued funding than public schools.
Barry Schmelzenbach, president of the association and superintendent of Harding Fine Arts Academy charter school, has said the lawsuit doesn’t provide a specific example of how the funding structure should be changed. But he said the Legislature has intended for both charter and public school students to receive about the same amount.
The Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts could lose significant funding in the lawsuit, because a majority of the state’s charter school districts are located in their boundaries.
“Intervention in this suit is not our first choice,” Tulsa Public Schools officials said. “We believe that this issue deserves a legislative solution that is lawful, sustainable, and equitable. We are also concerned about the accelerated pace of the lawsuit and do not have the information we need to understand the legal, fiscal, and programmatic impact on Oklahoma school districts.”
Oklahoma City Public Schools’ request would prevent a settlement in the lawsuit before the district can present its case.
A court hearing for the case is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com