Saturday, January 24, 2015

Schmidt asks school-funding panel for clarity

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today formally asked the three-judge panel in the state school finance litigation to provide a clear explanation of what information it relied on to reach its conclusion last month that the state’s funding of public schools is inadequate.

Schmidt filed a motion asking the panel to “alter and amend” its December 30, 2014, order so that it complies with the Kansas Supreme Court’s instruction for the panel to engage in fact-finding as to the state’s school-funding system.

Both the State and the plaintiffs submitted numerous proposed “findings of fact” to the panel, but instead of sorting through them and stating which the panel believes to be correct and which are incorrect based on the evidence in the record, the panel stated that “all facts, by whomever presented, could not reasonably be discussed individually,” and instead merely stated “[f]acts inconsistent with our original Opinion and our Opinion issued following are rejected implicitedly [sic].”

The panel also asserted that the plaintiffs' findings of fact "speak the truth" without explanation of which of the numerous proposed findings of fact the panel was referring or whether that also referred to several finding proposed by the plaintiffs that the panel previous rejected.

“The ‘speak the truth’ and ‘spoke the truth’ statements are, to be candid, extremely ambiguous and largely unhelpful for meaningful appellate review,” Schmidt wrote. “The ‘implicit’ rejection without explicit findings will require both the parties and the Kansas Supreme Court to engage in rank speculation and a high stakes guessing game as to what the Panel has determined are the actual facts and whether such facts are consistent or inconsistent under the Panel’s legal conclusions.”

Schmidt noted that without the sort of specific fact-finding that the Kansas Supreme Court ordered, and that Courts ordinarily provide, it will be difficult or impossible for the Kansas Supreme Court to engage in proper appellate review of the panel’s most recent decision.

In the motion, Schmidt also noted that the panel refused the state’s request to engage in discovery and provide the panel with additional evidence after the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling, which had clarified what needed to be proven, but then seemed to conclude that the State had not provided evidence to the panel’s satisfaction.

The case is Gannon v. State of Kansas, Case No. 2010CV1569. A copy of the motion can be found at .