A judge has been named to hear several lawsuits brought by school districts against the State of Texas, to protest the way public education is funded.
Judge John Dietz, of the 250th Judicial District Civil Court in Travis County, will preside over the suits. The news was trumpeted by the Equity Center, a coalition of several poorer school districts. An Equity Center offshoot, the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition sued the state last year alleging Texas’ system of school funding was unconstitutional. As the coalition wrote in a complaint, “Taxpayers in low wealth districts who are willing to tax themselves at the highest rates allowed are unable to access the same dollars for education as taxpayers in high wealth districts who tax themselves at a lower rate.”
The Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition suit is one of four school finance-related complaints Dietz will hear. Three other suits have been filed, including one from the Austin and Round Rock school districts, since the Texas Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education last year. The Texas Tribune has a comprehensive rundown of the various suits levied at the state. While the parties in each respective suit are largely similar in their respective wealth, they all plead that the state’s form of school finance is broken.