School lawyers getting fat of litigation

Sep 9, 2014 by

If the Texas school districts that are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system ultimately prevail in their lawsuit, a result could be billions of dollars in extra funding from the state’s coffers for public education.

And more than $8.5 million would also go from the state to the four teams of lawyers representing them. Late last month, state district Judge John Dietz of Austin ruled in the districts’ favor, saying the Texas school finance system leaves school districts without the resources to meet the state’s academic standards. Among the evidence he cited in his findings was the “dismal” performance of poor and English language-learning students in Texas compared with their peers; the 100,000 students not on track to graduate high school on time and the high remediation rates of students who go on to college. The state plans to appeal the ruling.

Dietz also ordered the state to pay for the plaintiffs’ legal tab, which has surpassed $8 million, along with additional costs as the case goes through the appeals process.

The award came over protests from the state, which raised a number of objections, including paying for travel costs for lawyers and witnesses coming to Austin from across Texas. The trial, which lasted a total of 55 days and involved more than 90 witnesses, ended in early spring.

But Dietz said it was “equitable and just” to award the fees, which did not include time spent by the districts’ legal teams on public relations or legislative matters unrelated to the litigation. Dietz said that travel expenses were not excessive.

via In School Finance Battle, Legal Fees Accumulate | The Texas Tribune.

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