Lawyer Robert Huntley, a former Idaho Supreme Court Justice, has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court, urging Idaho school districts to stop charging students fees.
The lawsuit names every school district in Idaho as defendants, and it lists every K-12 student in Idaho, plus their parents or guardians, as plaintiffs whose rights have been violated, the Coeur d’Alene Press reported.
The practice of charging students fees violates the Idaho Constitution, according to Huntley. Article 9, Section 1 of the state constitution mandates that the state Legislature “establish and maintain … free common schools,” he said.
The lawsuit also says that the charging of fees “constitutes an unlawful deprivation and taking of private property without due process of law or just compensation” in violation of the students’ rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Along with co-counsel Jason Wood, the ex-justice’s lawsuit says that school districts statewide assess and collect about $20 million annually in unconstitutional fees.
“The defendants cannot require one of its citizens to forfeit his or her rights and benefits to a free public education as the price of resisting conformance to state-sponsored school fees and purchasing of ‘essential school supplies’ that will be distributed to and used by all students,” Huntley wrote in the class action complaint.
The Coeur d’Alene School District, Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, Post Falls School District, North Idaho STEM Charter Academy, Lakeland School District, and other local public school districts have all been named as defendants. Their spokespeople had no comment.
The state’s leaders should allocate more funding to public schools instead of having school districts charge fees, Huntley said.