State up now in Texas school finance case

Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:49 AM

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- It's the state's turn to present its case in a challenge by school districts in Texas that alleged the Legislature hasn't met its constitutional obligations.

The state, when it begins its case Thursday, was expected to argue that school districts, not lawmakers, have the responsibility for making sure the state's 5 million public school students receive the "general diffusion of knowledge" required by the Texas Constitution, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Lawyers representing the school districts have presented their arguments for the past seven weeks.

The state's lawyers don't have to prove the system is unconstitutional, only that the school districts failed to prove it isn't, the American-Statesman said.

About two-thirds of the school districts are part of the litigation. Among the districts' arguments -- and the one most difficult to prove -- is that the state failed to provide adequate funding to ensure students can meet the academic standards mandated by the Legislature, the American-Statesman said.

Craig Enoch, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, told the newspaper that the school districts have a heavy burden.

"It's as high a civil burden as there is, because after all you're trying to declare an enactment of the Legislature unconstitutional," said Enoch, who represents a separate group of plaintiffs.

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