Idaho Supreme Court Rules Free Means Free

Apr 28, 2017

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled additional fees for school classes are unconstitutional.
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The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a lower court finding public school student fees are unconstitutional.

The case was brought in 2012 by former Nampa Schools Superintendent Russell Joki. The case claimed school fees undercut the guarantee of free public education in the state. Listed defendants in the suit were the state of Idaho, the West Ada School District and the state legislature.

According to Idaho Ed News, Joki took issue with fees his grandkids had to pay to register for school and certain classes like art and chemistry. He pointed to Article IX of the Idaho Constitution which states, “It shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform, and thorough system of public, free common schools.”

The state and the board of education sought a dismissal, but, in 2015, a judge ruled that if a class is offered as a regular course, it needs to be free. While the court said classes had to be free, it earlier dismissed the state as a defendant. The court said the law requires Joki to sue school districts first before taking on the state.

Both the Idaho Supreme Court and lower court agreed the state’s constitution mandates uniform and free public schools.

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