Last month, a number of parents in Davenport, Iowa, filed a complaint against the governor, the legislature, and the state department of education alleging that the state’s education finance system discriminates against their students in violation of the equal protection clause of the state constitution. Woods v. State of Iowa. The plaintiffs also seek class certification to include all similarly-situated students in low wealth school districts throughout the state.
The state’s education funding formula places caps on how much districts can spend. Adjustments are made based on based on a number of factors. Almost half of Iowa’s school districts receive appropriations above the cap because of these adjustments. Although it has a substantial number of high poverty students, Davenport has not been provided the supplement of up to $175 per student received by some other districts because of its steady drop enrollment in recent years.
The lawsuit was filed just days after the state sanctioned Arthur Tate, the Davenport superintendent who decided earlier this year to illegally pull $2.7million from the district’s reserve account, the amount of money he says the district would have gotten had the state had a fair funding formula. Tate risks losing his superintendent license because of this action.