School Lawsuit Proceeds

A lawsuit challenging Nebraska's education funding system as unfair to certain students can proceed, a judge said Monday.

Douglas County District Judge Patricia Lamberty dismissed some arguments but said the group of schools bringing the lawsuit can proceed on claims that the funding formula violates the equal protection clause of the Nebraska Constitution.

Omaha Public Schools and a group made up of the Grand Island, South Sioux City and Lexington school districts sued Gov. Mike Johanns and other officials, arguing the funding formula failed to provide enough money to teach all students, including low-income and minority students.

Lamberty dismissed claims by the school districts that the funding formula violates a provision of the constitution that requires the "Legislature to provide for the free instruction in the common schools" for all people between the ages of 5 and 21.

The districts who filed the lawsuit claimed that clause requires state lawmakers to provide students with an education adequate enough to enable them to become productive citizens, find meaningful employment and to qualify for a college education.

The judge rejected that claim.

"This court cannot by law add words to the language of the Constitution," Lamberty wrote.

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