In this Article, we make the case that the currently dominant approaches to challenging the constitutionality of a state’s funding efforts have proven ineffective. Instead, future lawsuits designed to bring about lasting funding reform should be informed by the successes within the field of special education by asking courts to examine individual-rights claims based on one student, or several similarly-situated individual students, petitioning the court for relief tailored to that student or class. Such an approach to school finance litigation could result in a decision that limits relief to just one application of the entire funding formula, and the remedy would be focused on the plaintiff(s), not the state legislature, thus avoiding the typical separation of powers conflicts that systemic school finance litigation inevitably presents. This approach could prove laborious if the state funding formula has a multitude of inadequacies in need of redress, or multiple harmed parties, but our contention is that, over time and with favorable court rulings, the state funding formula would substantively improve, most likely through legislative initiative, rather than judicial edict.

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Notes/Citation Information

Spencer C. Weiler & Scott R. Bauries, Special Education’s Lessons for School Funding Litigation, 6 Educ. L. & Pol’y. Rev. 126 (2021).



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