When 11 Atlanta educators involved in test-cheating were convicted of racketeering in April, some observers questioned whether a state law originally aimed at organized crime was the appropriate legal tool for prosecutors in that case.
In a separate case, a federal appeals court last month ruled that a district was not a proper defendant in the federal version of such a law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO.
The decision came in a civil case involving alleged bribery in construction contracts of the Houston school district. Other defendants could be sued under the RICO law, the appeals court ruled, but the school district itself could not be.
A governmental entity cannot form the mental state demonstrating the intent to commit a criminal act as required by the statute, the court ruled.
A version of this article appeared in the June 03, 2015 edition of Education Week as District May Not Be Sued Under RICO Law, Court Says