July 2, 2005
Kansas Supreme Court to Close Kansas Schools?
|A press conference was scheduled by the
Kansas Supreme Court at 2 PM on Saturday near the fountains on the north
side of the Kansas Judicial Center. The splash of water from the
fountains made hearing the court's statement and questions and answers
from the press quite difficult.
This battle is all over what a "suitable education" means, and has become a constitution battle between the Kansas legislature and the Kansas Supreme Court.
|Ron Keefover, who is the education and information officer for the
Office of Judicial Administration, passed out a two-page
order from the Kansas Supreme Court, which was signed by Chief
Justice Kay McFarland:
The order announced a hearing at 9 AM, July 8 for the parties of the Ryan Montory, et al, case to show cause why the court should not issue an injunction. The court's order said "Specifically, counsel should demonstrate why this Court should not enter an ORDER enjoining the expenditure and distribution of funds for the operation of Kansas schools." If the Supreme Court shuts off the flow of money to the schools, this would effectively close Kansas schools.
|State Senator Karin Brownlee (R,
"The public needs to understand that this is about the separation of powers ... If we don't straighten out our separation of powers, our very foundation [of government] is shaken."
The Kansas Legislature must "protect our constitutional status as a separate branch of government."
|State Rep Eric Carter (R, Overland
Park) discussed two proposed amendments to the Kansas
Constitution with the press. The amendment to article
2 would prohibit the court from dictating the expenditures of funds,
the amendment to article
6 would prohibit the Supreme Court from closing schools in Kansas.
These education court "cases don't wrap up in a couple of months. They drag on for years and years. This Montoy case and this court's involvement in education financing in Kansas could be with us for the bulk of a decade ... in the absence of a constitutional amendment" clarifying "how much money and how it's going to be spent is to be decided by the legislature as opposed to the judicial branch. ... If we don't do that, there's really not much point to having a legislative body."
|State Senator David Haley (D, KCK) was asked by KCTV's reporter if he agreed this battle was about
preserving the legislature's power to determine how money is used and
when it's used.
"What we're here for is the Supreme Court's ... we need more money to fund our public schools. That's really what the special session has been about. There are some colleagues in the house that have chosen to make this a question of separation of powers ... whether or not the Supreme Count can delegate, or can legislate, if you will, how much specific" spending for education.
KCTV's reporter: "What do you feel about about that? You didn't answer my question."
Haley: "The primary issue ... is to fund public schools for our children. That is to ensure that schools remain open. ... We now know that ... the Supreme Court ... will close our public schools. That's a threat to every public school child in the State of Kansas. If there are other ancillary issues, like separation of powers, those issues can and should be resolved at an appropriate time, but this special session has and continues to be about education funding ... This is not the time" for those other issues.
|Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline in
a press conference following the Court's announcement:
"At the outset of this disagreement, we've had one goal in this office and that's to ensure that schools will be open this fall ...
Consistent with that goal, we have taken several steps ...
... recommending to the Governor and the legislature a statutory change, which we believe will allow schools to be open ...
We've proposed a limited constitutional amendment under article 6 ... which essentially states that the court does not have as a remedy ... the closure of schools or suspension of funds ...
...It would still leave in place the other remedies available to the court ...
... We have asked the State Board of Education to accelerate the certification of monthly amounts of funds for the next school year ... so that the Supreme Court cannot ... enjoin the State Board from such certification.
... The State Board of Education was unable to meet in response to my request ... They will meet at 9 AM Tuesday morning by teleconference ..."
[The Supreme Court is looking at] one remedy and one remedy only ... the closing of schools through the suspension of funds this fall.
... It is my understanding we have already certified dollars for schools to remain functioning through the end of August of this year ...
... The State Treasurer ... stands with me and she is ready to distribute those funds if the accelerator is passed -- and the Governor needs to sign off on this ...
I'm also pleased the court did not announce its remedy ... and allow us to brief and show cause before they implement that remedy. I appreciate that accommodation by the court ...
... The Court's intention is very clear -- is the shut down of the entire educational K-12 system in the State of Kansas ... despite the comments of the minority leader of the Senate ...
... this order clear indicates that if I am unable to present a credible defense of the actions of the Governor and the legislature by Friday, schools will be shut down, unless some of the other actions we're taking would prevent the court from doing so ...
Denying an education is not the means to use to guarantee a suitable education"
K a n s a s M e a d o w l a r k @ g m a i l . c o m