A group of 51 school districts filed suit last week arguing that Georgia is failing to spend enough money to provide an adequate education for all the state’s children.
The Coalition for Adequate School Funding in Georgia filed the long-awaited suit Sept. 14 in Fulton County Superior Court in Atlanta.
Joe Martin, the executive director of the coalition, said the plaintiffs are not trying to pick a fight with Gov. Sonny Perdue, who has taken steps of his own to review the state’s current school aid formula, which grew out of a failed lawsuit two decades ago.
“There was a last-minute flurry to get us to put it off,” Mr. Martin added. “But it’s essential that we raise the constitutional issue and let everyone know we are serious.”
Mr. Martin did not rule out the possibility of further discussions between the plaintiffs and state leaders that could lead to a compromise.
Gov. Perdue’s press secretary, Lorett Lepore, said, “The governor is disappointed by the filing.”
She noted that the Republican governor recently appointed a panel to examine school spending. He has put the state “on the course the plaintiffs are seeking.”
Ms. Lepore added that officials from some of the very districts participating in the suit were named by the governor to serve on the panel.
William A. Hunter, the superintendent of the Brantley County Schools and the president of the consortium, said in a written statement, “We applaud the governor for his leadership in addressing this issue, and we will work closely with the General Assembly. At the same time, the consortium is calling on the state to fulfill its clear obligation under Georgia’s Constitution to all of our children.”
The Georgia lawsuit is the latest among legal actions in several states over school aid, including the recent filings of lawsuits in Alaska and Nebraska. (“Alaska School Aid System Challenged in Court,” Sept. 8, 2004.)