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State Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Case About School Bus Fees

Larry Darling

A lawsuit over whether school districts can charge parents fees for transportation will go before the Indiana Supreme Court.   The state Court of Appeals transferred the case involving Franklin Township Schools to the state Supreme Court, though it isn‘t clear whether the court will agree to hear the case. In June, the appeals court reversed a verdict from a Marion County Superior Court judge, ruling that charging fees for busing was unconstitutional.

Parents sued Franklin Township Schools in 2011 after the district dropped busing due to a budget shortfall and contracted with a private company to provide buses, forcing parents to pay a monthly fee for the service or else drive their children to school. The General Assembly passed a law during the 2012 session banning the fees, and the school board voted in March 2012 to drop them, though parents were not reimbursed. While the Court of Appeals sided with parents, the court also ruled that parents were not entitled to monetary damages, saying there was not a provision in the state constitution for them.

Franklin Township is one of several school districts who have held unsuccessful tax referendums to fund buses, with districts arguing that caps on property taxes limit their revenue. Earlier this year, the state told the school board in Muncie they had to continue providing bus service even though voters rejected a proposed tax increase to fund them in November 2013. Muncie school officials had claimed they could no longer afford bus service if the tax increase was not approved.

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