High court rules schools must show size of unfunded mandate

LANSING (AP) — The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled against school districts that sued over the cost of reporting data to the state of Michigan.

The court ruled 6-1 recently that more than 450 districts had to prove the specific amount of the purported unfunded mandate. The districts had argued that they didn’t need to quantify the underfunding and instead only had to show that an underfunding occurred.

The high court released the decision last Tuesday.

The case stems from a lawsuit saying that the state didn’t provide enough funding for districts to collect and report information to the Center for Educational Performance and Information in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. The Michigan Constitution prohibits the state from requiring new or expanded activities by local governments and school districts without full state financing.

Chief Justice Robert Young Jr. says the Legislature gave money to school districts for reporting requirements, distinguishing the case from past cases in which no money was appropriated. He says districts as a result must show exactly how much funding is short.

Justice Michael Cavanagh was the lone dissenter, saying it’s not unreasonable to put the burden on the state to show that it appropriated enough money to the districts.

The court dismissed the suit, uphold a special master’s earlier order and overturning the Michigan Court of Appeals.