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Montgomery council lawyers: Schools lawsuit based on 'a house of cards'

That lawsuit threatened by the Montgomery County school system now has a detailed rebuttal.

The public schools essentially argued that the county council is toothless under current circumstances and can't trim the school budget proposed by County Executive Isiah Leggett (D). This line of reasoning was not popular among the county's Appropriators in Chief. And, according to the council's lawyers, it was based on an erroneous reading of the law.

The draft school suit, they write, is based on a mistaken interpretation of a provision in state law requiring a minimum level of funding. The suit conflates what state law says about mandatory spending and a separate provision concerning year-to-year funding known as maintenance of effort, the council attorneys argue.

"Once this fundamental flaw in the [Montgomery County Public Schools'] attorney's argument is exposed, the entire argument falls like a house of cards," write legislative attorneys Michael Faden and Robert Drummer. "If the Legislature had intended to further qualify the Council's broad authority to reduce the school budget in [Maryland Education Article] 5-103, they would have expressly said so."

The schools' lawyer said she's not surprised by the arguments.

"I understand they're going to take that kind of position," said attorney Judith S. Bresler. "I guess the judge will determine who's right."

Here's the council memo:


Montgomery Council Legal Response

See this earlier post for the draft school suit.

By Michael Laris  |  May 6, 2010; 12:18 PM ET
Categories:  Michael Laris  | Tags: Montgomery County Maryland, Montgomery County Public Schools  
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Comments

Oh, no Judith Bresler! Not the court! You know the State Board of Education is final arbiter of education issues and the courts defer to the State Board!

No need for a judge, court fees, legal fees, etc... All that has to happen is that Jerry Weast has to ask the State Board of Education for a ruling on his opinion on this issue.

Just like pushing the "Easy" button.

Posted by: jzsartucci | May 6, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

This is why the rest of the state hates MOco, this is fantasy land. Where else would the county agency that uses up the lions share of the taxpayer funded budget, sue the county council which is responsible for the budget? Only about 25 percent of the households in Moco have school age kids but the schools represent more than half the county budget. And while the police, fire, libraries, and parks have been cut by 14 to 24 percent, the schools only got cut about four percent. Shame on the MCPS.

Posted by: VikingRider | May 6, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

This is why the rest of the state hates MOco, this is fantasy land. Where else would the county agency that uses up the lions share of the taxpayer funded budget, sue the county council which is responsible for the budget? Only about 25 percent of the households in Moco have school age kids but the schools represent more than half the county budget. And while the police, fire, libraries, and parks have been cut by 14 to 24 percent, the schools only got cut about four percent. Shame on the MCPS.

Posted by: VikingRider | May 6, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

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