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Chronology of DeRolph v. State of Ohio
The Ohio School Funding Litigation - 1991-2003


This chronology has been prepared, in part, by the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding.

December 19, 1991. A complaint is filed by the Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding in Perry County on behalf of the Northern Local School District challenging the constitutionality of Ohio's elementary and secondary public school funding system.

June 1992. An April 19, 1993 trial date is set by Judge Linton Lewis, Jr. (which is later extended).

October 25, 1993. The trial begins and lasts 30 days. The trial includes over 70 witnesses and over 500 exhibits.

December 8, 1993. The trial is adjourned.

July 1, 1994. Judge Linton Lewis, Jr. issues a ruling stating that education is a fundamental right and that Ohio's system of school funding is unconstitutional.

August 12, 1994. The Ohio Governor announces that the State Defendants filed a Notice of Appeal to the Perry County Court of Appeals. The State Board of Education is included among the Appellants in the Notice of Appeal.

August 30, 1995. In a split decision, the Court of Appeals issues an opinion essentially overturning the trial court decision in DeRolph.

October 10, 1995. The Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding files an appeal asking the Ohio Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction of the case.

January 17, 1996. The Ohio Supreme Court accepts jurisdiction of the case.

March 11, 1996. Plaintiffs file their merit brief with the Ohio Supreme Court. Twelve amicus curiae briefs written on behalf of 16 organizations, including one presenting views of 37 Ohio legislators, are filed in support of the plaintiffs/appellants.

September 10, 1996. Oral arguments are held before the Supreme Court.

March 24, 1997. The Ohio Supreme Court issues an opinion holding that the current funding system is unconstitutional and orders a "complete, systematic overhaul" of the system with enactment required within 12 months by March 24, 1998. The Court remands the case to the trial court to conduct a hearing and issue findings as to whether the anticipated remedial legislation satisfies the mandates of the Ohio Supreme Court.(DeRolph I)

April 3, 1997. The State defendants file a motion for reconsideration and clarification of the DeRolph v. Ohio decision. The defendants ask the Supreme Court to 1) clarify whether local property taxes may be used in the new funding formula; 2) clarify the continued validity of debt obligations, pursuant to state law, incurred before March 24, 1998; and 3) retain jurisdiction of the DeRolph case.

April 25, 1997. The Ohio Supreme Court issues an opinion ruling on the State's Motion for Reconsideration and Clarification and finds that 1) local property taxes may be used as part of the funding solution, but they may no longer be used as the primary source of funding for a thorough and efficient system of schools; 2) school district borrowing may continue through March 23, 1998; and 3) the Supreme Court will not retain jurisdiction of the DeRolph case because the trial court is in the best position to be a trier of fact and gatherer of evidence and to make decisions about the progress and constitutionality of the enacted legislation. The Supreme Court states that "it would be the trial judge's responsibility to rule on the constitutionality of the enacted legislation and to render an opinion. Any party could then appeal that decision directly to this court for final determination."

February 18, 1998. The State files for an extension in the Perry County Court of Common Pleas of the March 24 deadline set by the Supreme Court for compliance. The State requests the court "(1) to extend the March 24th deadline until July 1, 1998, which is both after the May election and which would provide ample time to review the State’s remedy, and (2) to request the Ohio Supreme Court to enter an order asserting jurisdiction over any DeRolph-related cases, including any challenges to the May 5th ballot."

March 4, 1998. Plaintiffs file a motion in opposition to the State’s motion for an extension of the March 24 deadline in the Perry County Common Pleas Court. Plaintiffs argue that the Perry County Court’s "remand authority is limited to the authority to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision, not to change it." And that extending the March 24 deadline will "serve no purpose other than to delay judicial review of the ‘remedy’ that the State asserts is now complete."

March 9, 1998. The State files a Reply in Support of Its Motion for Extension of the March 24 Deadline in the Perry County Common Pleas Court, citing two main reasons for the extension. 1) "an extension is necessary to keep the schools open for the remainder of this school year" and 2) "an extension will allow this Court to defer a hearing plaintiffs’ challenge until after May 5th, which will allow the debate over the sales tax increase to occur in the proper forum."

March 10, 1998. Judge Linton Lewis, Jr. rules that the Perry County Court "is without authority to extend the deadline" and denies the State’s motion for an extension of the March 24 deadline.

March 11, 1998. The State files a motion for extension of the March 24 deadline to July 18 in the Supreme Court of Ohio. Dismissing the claim that an extension was needed to keep schools open for the remainder of this school year, the State said an extension was necessary to "clarify that the State defendants may continue operating and funding schools in a smooth and efficient manner." The extension will also "place the State on a reasonable schedule for implementing these changes."

March 20, 1998. The plaintiffs file a motion in opposition to the State’s request for an extension of the March 24 deadline to July 18 in the Supreme Court of Ohio. Plaintiffs argue that the "State has failed to provide this Court with any valid reason to extend the March 24 deadline . . . the sole purpose and effect of the requested extension is to delay judicial review of that legislation." The plaintiffs also state that “the question of whether such legislation satisfies the mandates of the Court is totally independent of a May 5 election, and the passage or failure of the proposed tax levy will have no effect on the operation of the State’s school funding laws.”

March 24, 1998. Plaintiffs file a motion for order reinstating remand, directing the trial court to establish a scheduling order, and allocating to the state the burdens of production and proof. The plaintiffs argue that the trial court should issue a scheduling order to immediately begin review of the State’s remedy to DeRolph. The plaintiffs also argue that “it is now the State’s responsibility, in the remedy phase of this litigation, to purge itself of the finding of unconstitutionality by affirmatively demonstrating that it has established an ‘entirely new school financing system’ that is consistent with the constitution and this Court’s decision of one year ago.” Plaintiffs urge the Court that if the State has appropriately answered the DeRolph decision then the State defendants have nothing to fear from immediate judicial review. Plaintiffs further state that if the State has not appropriately answered the DeRolph decision then delay is intolerable.

August 24 - September 4, 1998. Hearing in Perry County Common Pleas Court to review the State’s response to DeRolph.

September 1, 1998. Ohio Supreme Court issues an order holding that the State has the “burden of production and proof and must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the constitutional mandates have been fulfilled.”

November 3, 1998. Both the Plaintiffs and Defendants file Post-Hearing Briefs and Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law with Judge Lewis in Perry County.

November 3, 1998. Senator Ben Espy, along with Representatives Bender, Brady, Hartley, Healy, Krupinski, Mallory, D. Miller, Prentiss, Pringle, Sutton, Sykes; and Senators Furney, Hagan, Herington, Latell, McLin and Shoemaker, file a Brief of Amici Curiae with Judge Lewis on behalf of the Plaintiffs in DeRolph. The Ohio Association for Gifted Children also submits an Amicus Curiae Brief to Judge Lewis on behalf of the Plaintiffs.

November 16, 1998. State Defendants file a Motion to Strike portions of amici briefs submitted by Senator Espy and other legislators, and the Ohio Association for Gifted Children - stating that both briefs contain “information extraneous to the record and are beyond the scope of an Amicus Brief.”

December 2, 1998. Judge Lewis denies the State’s Motion to Strike portions of the two amici briefs “with the exception of the Radio Talk Show comments allegedly made by Senator Watts. Senator Watts’ comment to the effect that the districts that sued the State would ‘rue the day’ that the Court’s decision came down was previously excluded on objections by the State at trial.”

December 3, 1998. Both the Plaintiffs and Defendants file Reply Briefs and Objections to Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law with Judge Lewis.

February 26, 1999. Judge Lewis issues an opinion ruling that the State's response to the Supreme Court order in DeRolph is unconstitutional.

March 26, 1999. The State of Ohio appeals the Judge Lewis decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

June 23, 1999. The record from the Perry County Common Pleas Court is filed with the Ohio Supreme Court.

August 2, 1999. State Defendants file their brief with the Ohio Supreme Court. Governor Robert Taft files an amicus brief and Senate President Richard Finan, jointly with House Speaker Jo Ann Davidson, file a second amicus brief on behalf of the Defendants.

September 1, 1999. Coalition Plaintiffs file their brief with the Ohio Supreme Court. Fifteen amicus briefs are filed in support of the Plaintiffs.

September 1, 1999. Supreme Court sets oral argument for November 16, 1999.

November 16, 1999. Supreme Court hears oral arguments from both parties in the DeRolph case.

May 11, 2000. Supreme Court issues opinion holding that Ohio’s school funding system remains unconstitutional and gives the State until June 15, 2001 to bring the system into compliance. The Court retained jurisdiction to review the legislation enacted in response to its remedial orders. (DeRolph II)

December 8, 2000. Coalition Plaintiffs file a motion with Ohio Supreme Court for order requiring Defendants to (1) pay the costs of the unfunded mandates, and (2) file a master plan for achieving compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders and to file subsequent progress reports.

January 25, 2001. Ohio Supreme Court issues an order requiring that Plaintiffs and Defendants file any evidence no later than June 15, 2001 and that the parties and amici file their merit briefs no later than June 18, 2001. Responsive briefs and stipulated extensions of time will not be permitted. The Supreme Court also sets oral argument for June 20, 2001.

June 15, 2001. Evidence is filed with the Ohio Supreme Court in preparation for oral argument.

June 18, 2001. Both Plaintiffs and Defendants file merit briefs with Ohio Supreme Court. Sixteen groups and Congressman Ted Strickland file amicus briefs in support of the Plaintiffs. Five briefs are filed in support of the State Defendants.

June 20, 2001. Oral argument before the Supreme Court.

September 6, 2001. Ohio Supreme Court issues an opinion which holds that Ohio’s school funding system is unconstitutional, but orders State defendants to alter the methodology for determining the per pupil base support and accelerate the phase-in of parity aid, at which point the system will become constitutional. (DeRolph III)

September 17, 2001. State Defendants file a motion for reconsideration with the Ohio Supreme Court.

November 2, 2001. Supreme Court grants Governor Taft’s motion for reconsideration, but does not issue an opinion to define the parameters of reconsideration. The Supreme Court issues a statement that merely says, “On motion for reconsideration. Motion granted, Decision and opinion to follow.”

November 16, 2001. Supreme Court issues written reconsideration order in which, in lieu of a decision on reconsideration, it orders a settlement conference between the Defendants and Plaintiffs and orders a master commissioner to preside over the conference. The Supreme Court provides a list of nine potential candidates for master commissioner and requests both parties to file, within ten days, memoranda to comment on the candidates or provide additional candidates.

November 26, 2001. State Defendants and Coalition Plaintiffs both file memoranda commenting on the nine potential candidates of master commissioner. The Coalition Plaintiffs find no fault with any of the candidates, but do identify four of the candidates that appear to “possess the qualifications and experience that would be of greatest assistance to the Master Commissioner.” Those four are: Eric Green; Michael Lewis, Francis McGovern and Linda Singer. The State Defendants’ memorandum requests clarification on the parties to the litigation and also requests a status conference in addition to comments on the candidates. Specifically, the State Defendants wish to clarify that amici of the Court are not parties to the litigation, state entities are represented solely by the Attorney General’s office and individual legislators are not parties to the litigation. The State Defendants feel they did not have ample time to review the list of nine candidates nor to explore the possibility of additional candidates and therefore based on the “limited background information available, the State finds no apparent basis upon which to challenge any candidate for cause.” The State does, however, caution the Supreme Court that Eric Green was the mediator in the recent Microsoft settlement discussions and if he is selected that would involve him in two back-to-back mediations involving Ohio.

December 13, 2001. Ohio Supreme Court issues order selecting Howard S. Bellman from Madison, WI as the master commissioner. The Supreme Court also denies the State Defendants’ request for clarification and their request for a status conference.

March 21, 2002. Special Master Howard Bellman issues report which concludes that the parties were unable to come to a resolution of the issues.

March 21, 2002. The Ohio Supreme Court issues an order restoring the case to the active docket for resolution.

December 11, 2002. The Ohio Supreme Court issues its reconsideration decision and finds the school funding system unconstitutional and vacates DeRolph III and declares DeRolph I and II as the law of the case. (DeRolph IV)

March 4, 2003. The DeRolph plaintiffs file a motion for a compliance conference with the Perry County Court of Common Pleas. The motion requests a conference to ascertain when and how the State intends to comply with the mandates of the Ohio Supreme Court.

March 7, 2003. The State files a Complaint for Writ of Prohibition in the Ohio Supreme Court asking the Court to bar the trial court from entertaining the plaintiffs' motion for a compliance conference.

March 10, 2003. Plaintiffs file a Motion to Intervene in Ohio Supreme Court Writ of Prohibition Proceedings and an Answer to Writ of Prohibition.

May 16, 2003. The Ohio Supreme Court issues an opinion granting the writ of prohibition and stating that "we now grant a preemptory writ and end any further DeRolph litigation in DeRolph v. State." Thus Court, thus, prohibited the trial court from conducting the status conference sought by the DeRolph plaintiffs and foreclosed any further proceedings in the case.

August 13, 2003. Plaintiffs file Petition for Writ of Certiorari to United States Supreme Court. Amici Curiae briefs in support of petitioners are filed by the South Carolina School Districts, Taxpayers and Children; The Council of the Great City Schools in Support of Petitioners; Ohio School Boards Association, Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and Ohio Association of School Business Officials; Various Members of the Minority Caucuses of the Ohio General Assembly; and Various Members of the U.S. Congress.

September 15, 2003. The State files Brief of Respondent State of Ohio in Opposition to the Petition for Certiorari

September 24, 2003. Plaintiffs file Reply Brief to State’s Brief in Opposition

October 20, 2003. Certiorari denied by U.S. Supreme Court. No opinion issued.

 

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