Who Is In Charge

Hick appeals Lobato ruling

Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that the state will appeal a district judge’s ruling in the Lobato v. State school funding lawsuit.

Lobato v. State illustrationBut the State Board of Education, after an hour-long closed session over the phone, adjourned without taking a vote on an appeal and will meet again Dec. 27.

In a prepared statement, the governor said, “A final resolution of the constitutional and legal issues involved in the case require an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“The judge’s decision provided little practical guidance on how the state should fund a ‘thorough and uniform’ system of public education. Moreover, while the judge focused on the inadequacy of state funding, she did not reconcile this issue with other very relevant provisions of the Constitution, including the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23.

“There are more appropriate venues for a vigorous and informed public debate about the state’s spending priorities. We look forward to a swift decision in this case so the people of Colorado and their elected representatives can participate in the school funding conversation.”

The state board met for about an hour in a closed session also attended by education Commissioner Robert Hammond, board aide Carey Markel and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Fero. Markel worked on the case for the AG’s office before recently taking her staff position with the board. (Markel does not provide legal advice to the board in her new role.) The third member of the state’s trial team, Nick Heinke, also has left the attorney general’s office.

The board returned to public session just long enough for chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District, to announce another meeting on Dec. 27 and for members to vote to adjourn.

Some observers had predicted a 4-3 split on the board in favor of an appeal. However, the seven-member group (four Republicans and three Democrats) does have a past pattern of seeking unanimity on major issues.

An appeal may keep the case in the courts for perhaps a year, according to some observers. Appeal also could take the legislature off the hook in 2012 for responding to the district court’s ruling that the state’s school funding system doesn’t meet constitutional requirements and that the state needs to devise a new system.

The named defendants in the case are the state, Hickenlooper, the state board and education Hammond, an employee of the board.

Estimates put full compliance with the Lobato ruling at $2 to $4 billion a year more than the $5.2 billion a year the state and districts currently spend on basic school operations.

Reaction roundup

Kathleen Gebhardt, lead attorney for the plaintiffs:

“We are disappointed by the governor’s announcement today that the district judge’s ruling will be appealed. We call on the legislature to act during the upcoming session as kids are continuing to go to school in failing facilities, with outdated textbooks, and in overcrowded classrooms.

“Our children have been in these conditions for decades and should the legislature not act, these conditions will continue to exist. Justice delayed is education denied. We continue to invite the state to a robust discussion on how we solve this funding emergency, which will not change as long as the current funding system is in place. Significantly absent from Governor Hickenlooper’s comments is any defense of the current system.”

Lisa Weil, Great Education Colorado:

“We are disappointed that the state has decided to appeal the Lobato decision before seeking and receiving more input from the people of Colorado. Nonetheless, with today’s decision by the State Board of Education to delay action on the appeal, we are hopeful that our leaders will reconsider this decision to spend even more taxpayer dollars defending an indefensible school financing system.

“We encourage every state elected official – every legislator, every State Board of Education member – to read the entire Lobato opinion and to make their own decision about whether the state is meeting its constitutional duty to maintain a ‘thorough and uniform system of free public schools.'” (The group is collecting signatures on a petition to state officials urging no appeal.)

Beverly Ingle, president Colorado Education Association:

The head of the 40,000-member teachers union said she regrets that Gov. Hickenlooper is seeking a final decision from the Colorado Supreme Court, but like the governor, is hoping for a swift decision.

“We want quick resolution because Colorado students need the state to focus on overhauling the K-12 funding system and finding the solutions that will increase our investment in their education.”

Education News Colorado Lobato archive

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.