Whitingham education funding case to continue

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NEWFANE — A court case presented by a student and a taxpayer alleging that Vermont's educational funding model is unconstitutional will continue despite the state's attempts to dismiss all claims.

"These claims involved allegations that the state has infringed on important rights guaranteed under the Vermont Constitution," Judge Robert Gerety wrote in a decision and order denying the state's motion for judgment on the pleadings. "A just result requires developing a full factual record, based on evidence, not mere allegations, before assessing whether the statutes involved are violative of the Vermont Constitution. Accordingly, the court has determined that the parties shall be afforded a reasonable period of time to complete reasonable discovery targeted at the specific claims of the parties."

Gerety said the parties may wish to file additional motions once discovery is complete and evidence is fully developed.

"Failing that," he wrote, "the factual issues will be resolved at trial."

The decision and order was signed Thursday.

"Here, the court disagrees with defendant that plaintiffs have failed to 'allege facts sufficient to state a claim under any constitutional theory recognized by Vermont,'" Gerety wrote. The state "also argues that the town has not been directly harmed and is incapable of asserting claims on behalf of its residents."

Gerety said the court agreed with the plaintiffs in saying the town has the capacity to sue the state in order to protect its taxpayers and students from unconstitutional action and itself from potential legal exposure.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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