Law & Courts

Controversial Conversation

By Linda Jacobson — May 09, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A lunchtime meeting between a Kansas Supreme Court justice and the president of the state Senate in which the ongoing school finance lawsuit against the state was discussed has prompted a request for an investigation by a judicial panel.

On March 1, Justice Lawton R. Nuss met at a Mexican restaurant in Topeka with Senate President Stephen Morris and Sen. Pete Brungardt, both Republicans.

In an April 26 memo to the Republican caucus, Sen. Morris wrote that the conversation about the finance case lasted only about five minutes. He said that Justice Nuss wanted to know how a House bill recommending $500 million for schools compared with figures compiled by a state auditor and with the figures in a cost study by the Denver-based school finance consultants John G. Augenblick and John L. Myers.

“The justice did make a comment that he had read quotes in the paper indicating several leaders would like to see a bipartisan school finance plan adopted by the legislature before final adjournment,” Sen. Morris wrote. “He said he thought that sounded good. This was the extent of the discussion.”

“With pressing issues still awaiting action,” he continued, “it is unfortunate some are attempting to blow this situation out of proportion. We must move on to the important issues yet to be resolved.”

A statement issued by the supreme court on April 20 supported Mr. Morris’ account.

Still, Justice Nuss has withdrawn from the case to avoid an appearance of impropriety. Chief Justice Kay McFarland has asked the state’s Commission on Judicial Qualifications to look into whether the justice violated ethical standards.

See Also

The issue comes at a time when the Kansas legislature, which has been ordered by the court to increase school aid, is trying to meet that demand before the end of this year’s session.

Some legislators argue that the conversation proves that the court is trying to legislate from the bench.

But representatives of the education community hope lawmakers will look past the controversy. “The luncheon was an unfortunate incident in that it served as a distraction to the work being done,” Jim Edwards, a government-relations specialist for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said in an e-mail.

“All in all, cooler heads have seemed to prevail,” he said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the May 10, 2006 edition of Education Week


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Opinion What the Law Says About Parents' Rights Over Schooling
The rallying cry of “parental freedom” perpetuated racial segregation, writes a legal scholar. So why would we let it dictate curriculum?
Joshua Weishart
5 min read
People hold signs and chant during a meeting of the North Allegheny School District school board regarding the district's mask policy, at at North Allegheny Senior High School in McCandless, Pa., on Aug. 25, 2021. A growing number of school board members across the U.S. are resigning or questioning their willingness to serve as meetings have devolved into shouting contests over contentious issues including masks in schools.
People at a school board meeting in late August protest the mask policy set by the North Allegheny school district in Western Pennsylvania.
Alexandra Wimley/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP
Law & Courts Justice Dept. to Pay $127.5M to Parkland Massacre Victims' Families
Attorneys for 16 of the 17 killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland said they had reached a confidential monetary settlement.
Terry Spencer, Miami Herald
2 min read
In this Feb. 15, 2018, file photo, law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
In this Feb. 15, 2018, file photo, law enforcement officers block off the entrance to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., following a deadly shooting at the school.
Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
Law & Courts Can Public Money Go to Religious Schools? A Divisive Supreme Court Case Awaits
The justices will weigh Maine's exclusion of religious schools from its "tuitioning" program for students from towns without high schools.
13 min read
The Carson family pictured outside Bangor Christian School in Bangor, Maine on Nov. 5, 2021.
Institute for Justice senior attorney Michael E. Bindas, left, accompanies Amy and David Carson who flank their daughter, Olivia, outside Bangor Christian Schools in Maine in early November. The Carsons are one of two families seeking to make religious schools eligible for Maine's tuition program for students from towns without high schools.
Linda Coan O’Kresik for Education Week
Law & Courts Students Expelled, Suspended for 'Slavery' Petition Sue District
The lawsuit claims the officials violated the students’ First Amendment, due process, and equal protection rights.
3 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+