In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court decided its most significant case on equal education opportunity. In the year of Brown’s fiftieth anniversary, Topeka, Kansas, again provides the site for what may become widely cited as a revolutionary decision on equal education opportunity. In December 2003, Shawnee County, Kansas District Court Judge Terry Bullock held that the Kansas system of funding schools provided unequal educational funding and was unconstitutional. His ruling in Montoy v. State was in response to a lawsuit filed in 1999, claiming that the State’s funding formula is unconstitutional, because it is “inadequate and inequitable.” Judge Bullock withheld issuing a final order and gave the Kansas legislature and governor until July 1, 2004, to remedy the system. The legislature considered numerous proposals, but failed to reach an agreement and adjourned on May 8, 2004, without changing the existing formula or allocating additional resources. On May 11, Judge Bullock issued his Decision and Order in the case, freezing all payments from the State to school districts, effective June 30, 2004. The order required that public schools be closed on June 30 and kept closed until the legislature took corrective action to eliminate the “inequitable and inadequate” educational system. By issuing his order to close the schools, Judge Bullock sent a strong message to the political branches that corrective measures, as well as extraordinary judicial remedies, may be needed when it is established that the State has an unconstitutional system of school finance.
Closing the School Doors in the Pursuit of Equal Education Opportunity: A Comment on Montoy v. State, 2003 WL 22902963 (Kan. Dist. Ct. 2003),
83 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol83/iss3/12