Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Franklin Township School District to Fight Legal Battle for Private Vendor Bus Fees

WRTV reports:
Franklin Township school board members voted Monday to fight a lawsuit over controversial bus fees.

In a vote of 3-2, the board voted to go ahead with litigation to defend the district against a suit filed seeking class-action status.

The embattled school district partnered this year with the Central Indiana Educational Service Center to offer bus service at a cost of $475 per child. They have collected $433,900 in parent-paid fees.

The Indiana attorney general recently issued an opinion that called the bus fees per child unconstitutional.
Some parents questioned why the district would spend money fighting an uphill battle.

“The response from this district’s attorney is absurd -- let them take us to court to fight an undefendable suit that will cost a minimum of $40,000,” another parent said.

Franklin Township Superintendent Walter Bourke has said the school board will continue to work to balance the school’s budget and will let the issue of the bus fees be decided in court.
I haven't read the Attorney General's opinion.  The AG's opinion originally was that the school district couldn't charge these fees. So the school district decided to outsource bus service and let them charge the fees.  While I am not certain on the overall issue of the legality of the fees, I don't see how the school district could contract out something that would be illegal if done by the district.

As far as the $40,000 legal fee figure, I am sure the legal fees will be 10 times that. The law firm hired to defend the lawsuit is Bose McKinney, a big downtown, well-connected law firm.  Bose is one of the many big law firms that make a bundle representing school districts and local units of government.  That sort of representation lends itself to big legal bills because there is no one that properly monitor the charges and because taxpayers and not individuals are footing the tab.

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