Duluth school board could join court caseThe Duluth School Board will probably vote today to seek to join a court case on the side of the Minnesota Department of Education, which is being challenged for its decision to approve recent Red Plan changes.
By: Jana Hollingsworth, Duluth News Tribune
The Duluth School Board will probably vote today to seek to join a court case on the side of the Minnesota Department of Education, which is being challenged for its decision to approve recent Red Plan changes.
The district has issued an “intent to intervene,” which would allow it to provide the state with information relevant to the case.
According to court documents, the Minnesota Voters Alliance and Duluth Taxpayers Association have asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to reverse the education department’s decision to allow the Duluth school district to borrow more money for the Red Plan.
The two groups have asked the court to review the state department’s decision for errors or irregularities.
The district, with new construction plans for Myers-Wilkins and Congdon Park elementary schools, asked the state to approve an additional $19 million in borrowing. A portion of that — $12.8 million — is funded through a statute that allows the district to borrow without asking for voter approval because of its status as a first-class city. Rochester, Minneapolis and St. Paul are the only other cities in Minnesota with that status, which is related to population size.
“Cities of the first class” receive integration money from the state to help close the achievement gap. The plaintiffs contend the state education department improperly allowed the district to use race to avoid getting voter approval for integration money.
The attorney for the plaintiffs, Erick Kaardal of Minneapolis, didn’t return calls Monday. A spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education declined to comment on the appeal.
The Duluth school district issued a statement: “In April 2012, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), after thorough and careful examination, issued a positive review and comment for Congdon Park and Myers-Wilkins elementary school construction work. Two plaintiffs have appealed the (decision.) If the appeal delays the two construction projects, which are scheduled to begin this summer, it could result in increased costs and delayed transition time for students.”
In October, the same groups brought a constitutional claim to the state education department for similar reasons.