School fees decision from the Indiana Supreme Court

April 11th, 2006

The Indiana Supreme Court recently held that “service fees” charged by school corporations are prohibited under Indiana’s constitutional guarantee of a “free and equal” education.

In Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh County School Corp., the court, however, decided not to address the issue of whether charging for school textbook rental was also a violation of the state Constitution.

The South Bend Tribune made their opinion of the Court’s decision clear in an editorial this week:

So just what should an Indiana Supreme Court justice be expected to do for his public service pay? Answer the hard questions? Or just the easy ones?

It seems to us that the court took the easy way out with its ruling on Nagy v. Evansville-Vanderburgh County School Corp. The justices settled the specific matter regarding the constitutionality of student services fees. But they punted the question of textbook rental fees back to the Indiana General Assembly — even though legislators long have ducked the state’s duty to fully fund textbooks for public school students.

I agree that textbook rental fees should be eliminated so that Indiana students may receive the benefit of a truly free education.

However, I also tend to agree with Justice Sullivan’s dissent, which takes a more deferential approach to Legislative authority to determine what exactly is funded in the public education system.

The Court’s opinion is available here (.pdf), and more coverage is available at Advance Indiana and the Indiana Law Blog.

Entry Filed under: Indiana Courts, Education

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Michele Woolbright  |  December 12th, 2006 at

    We have moved here from Colorado. I have four children in school We are a middle class family, pay income tax and property tax. But, because my husband makes a little too much we are punished by the State of Indiana. It’s the middle class that foots the bill for ourselves and the poor. We made a poor choice in moving to Indiana. Indiana needs to get with the times.

  • 2. Teresa  |  July 9th, 2008 at

    I checked this site because I was curious how this case had turned out. We lived in an area of Indiana that had so many poor that we all, rich and poor got free books. I think it had title one, not sure if that was the reason or not.

    We moved to Illinois. Not only are our fees a couple hundred dollars for some grades (some are less) but we have mandatory dental care just to be able to go to school. We were saving for braces my daughter needed only to find out we had to do another mandatory dental visit that we had to pay for out of the money we were saving for braces that my husbands insurance didn’t pay.

    There are kids here who are repeating a grade over because they can’t afford summer school UGH!

  • 3. Christina  |  August 11th, 2008 at

    This is the craziest thing I have ever seen. We moved here from Maryland, and we have never heard of paying for textbooks. Our taxes paid for everything. Except for most field trips, and anything extra the teacher may need. We have family living all over this country and they have never heard of this kind of thing either. If 53% of my taxes (which are way to much) are going to education, and I have to pay for textbooks, then who’s pocket is the rest of the money going to????? Average families can’t afford these fees and we make to much for reduced or free meals. Something has to give Indiana!!!

  • 4. sheila branden  |  August 12th, 2008 at

    I grew up in Indiana and my parents had to pay the fee back then too. Today I live in Tennessee and our taxes pay for text books. Indiana has higher property taxes, income taxes and this this crazy fee and yet their schools are average at best. Even their state college tuition is higher then many other states. Where does the money go?

  • 5. Garold Morgan  |  August 14th, 2009 at

    I am being taken to small claims court on the 27th of this month by the Warrick County school coorporation. We refused to pay the “book fee’s” last year and now are being strong armed into paying over $700 for court cost and legal fee’s. I will fight this tooth and nail as everyone in Indiana should. If we all stopped paying; what would they do?

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    credit repair indiana

    Credit where Credit is due - terrific place!

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