Since 2013, various plaintiff groups have asked the Idaho state courts to compel the state to comply with previous court orders to provide the “thorough education” required by the state constitution. In a recent series of cases that responded to various procedural challenges posed by the state courts, plaintiffs have focused their legal claims on allegations that inadequate funding has led the majority of the state’s school districts to levy fees for supplies, coursework, and electives, thereby violating the state’s constitutional obligation to provide a “system of free public schools.”
Frustrated by the continuing delays in the state courts, in 2018, a group of plaintiffs filed Zeyen v. Boise Sch. Dist # 1 et al in the federal district court. The Zeyen plaintiffs claim that these fees violate the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution by unlawfully taking people’s property. The federal court stayed any action in this case pending a final ruling on the analogous state claims by the state supreme court. Last month, following the Idaho Supreme Court’s denial of the Zeyen plaintiffs’ state due process claim for damages for past amounts paid, the U.S. District Court held that it would lift the stay that had postponed the hearing of the plaintiffs’ federal due process claims. Accordingly, the Court has now scheduled a hearing for September 3, 2020 on plaintiffs’ motion for certification of a class consisting of students in 115 school districts throughout the state that have allegedly been charging students various fees because of inadequate state funding.