Appellate court rules how California's legislative branch can fund education mandates

By Dee Thompson | Feb 10, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals court has concluded it is constitutional for the state legislature to designate funding that it already provides to school districts as offsetting revenue when reimbursing them for the costs of new state-mandated programs. 

In the case of the California School Board Association (CSBA) v. The State of California, the appellate court affirmed the judgment from the lower court in part and reversed it in part. In its order filed Jan. 16, 2018, the Court of Appeals notes: “We hold Government Code Section 17557, subdivision (d)(2)(B), as applied in Education Code Sections 42238.24 and 56523, subdivision (f), does not violate article XIII B, Section 6, or Article III, Section 3, of the California Constitution. However, we reverse the court’s rulings on the motion for leave to amend and the motion to dismiss.”

The case has now been remanded to Alameda County, with the court noting, “We remand this case to the Alameda County Superior Court to allow CSBA and the school districts to amend the first cause of action to allege that identifying education protection account funding as an offset under Education Code Section 42238.24 violates Article III, Section 36, of the California Constitution. We also reverse the court’s dismissal of the third and fourth causes of 37 action. Each party shall bear its own costs on appeal.”

This case was filed in January 2011 and there was a hearing in 2015. As the court notes, “This action was brought to trial as a result of the hearing on the motion for a writ of mandate: the hearing was contested, and it resolved issues of law put in issue by the pleadings for the purpose of determining the constitutional and statutory rights of the parties.” 

According to the court documents, the California association and the school districts appealed the trial court's denial of their motion for leave to file a fourth amended petition, denial of their motion for a writ of mandate as to the second cause of action in their third amended petition, and its dismissal of the remaining causes of action in the third amended petition. The CSBA and the districts requested that the appellate court reverse the trial court and declare Government Code Section 17557(d)(2)(B) unconstitutional to the extent it allows the state to avoid mandate reimbursement by identifying ‘offsetting revenues' that simply represent funding already apportioned to school districts for other purposes as provided in Education Code Sections 42238.24 and 56523, the documents stated. 

The order of the appellate court was drafted by Judge P.J. Jones, with Judge Mark B. Simons and Judge Henry E. Needham, Jr. concurring. 

The law firm of Olson Hagel & Fishburn, Deborah B. Caplan and Richard C. Miadich represented  plaintiffs and appellants California School Boards Association and its Education Legal Alliance. 

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, assistant attorney general Douglas J. Woods, and deputy attorney generals Constance L. LeLouis and Seth E. Goldstein represented the defendants and the state of California. 

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