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Texas School Finance Litigation Archive

In 2011 and early 2012, a group of school districts, businesses, parents, and concerned individuals filed suit in Travis County District Court against the State of Texas over the constitutionality of the state school finance system. After a ruling by the district court in 2014, the case was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, which on May 13, 2016, ruled that the school finance system in Texas is within constitutional limits.

The 2011 case was preceded by several major school finance lawsuits in Texas. This page details the history of school finance litigation in Texas and provides access to key court documents. In addition, it includes a range of helpful resources on the subject of school finance.


Key Rulings in Texas School Finance Litigation History

Court Document Archive

Interim Committee Reports

School Finance Bibliography

Acknowledgements

Key Rulings in Texas School Finance Litigation History  Top

Timeline adapted with permission from An Introduction to School Finance in Texas, Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA), pg. 27, by Sheryl Pace.

Date Case number Opinion Court Citation Legislative response
San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez (1973) Top
12/23/1971, as clarified 1/26/1972 Civ. A. No. 68-175-SA Demetrio P. Rodriguez v. San Antonio ISD; Opinion

District court ruled that the school finance system violates equal protection guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas 337 F. Supp. 280 (W. Dist. Tex. 1971)
3/21/1973 No. 71-1332 San Antonio ISD v. Demetrio P. Rodriguez; Opinion

U.S. Supreme Court reversed decision of the lower court, finding the state system bore rational relationship to furthering state goals of providing minimum education while encouraging local control. [Read more]
U.S. Supreme Court 411 U.S. 1, 93 S. Ct. 1278 (1973) (1975-1977) Increased teacher salary schedule and increased the number of instructional days to 175.

HB 72, 68th 2nd C.S. (1984)
Edgewood I (1989) Top
4/29/1987 No. 362,516 Edgewood ISD v. William Kirby; Statement and findings regarding the fundamental right of our citizens to a state sponsored free public education Travis County 250th District Court, Judge Harley Clark
6/1/1987 No. 362,516 Edgewood ISD v. William Kirby; Final judgment (6/1/87); Findings of fact and conclusions of law (8/27/87) Travis County 250th District Court, Judge Harley Clark
12/14/1988 No. 03-87-190-CV William Kirby et al. vs. Edgewood ISD, et al.; Opinion, dissent, and order Texas Third Court of Appeals, Austin 761 S.W.2d 859 (1988)
10/2/1989 No. C-8353 Edgewood ISD v. William Kirby; Opinion

School finance system found unconstitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court 777 S.W.2d 391 (Tex. 1989) SB 1, 71st 6th C.S. (1990)
Edgewood II & IIa (1991) Top
9/24/1990 No. 362,516 Edgewood ISD v. William Kirby; Final judgment and opinion Travis County 250th District Court, Judge F. Scott McCown
1/22/1991 No. D-0378 Edgewood ISD v. William Kirby; Opinion

School finance system found unconstitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court 804 S.W.2d 491 (Tex. 1991) SB 351, 72nd R.S. (1991)
2/25/1991 Edgewood IIa, Advisory opinion
In response to a motion for rehearing, the Supreme Court issued an "advisory opinion."

[advisory opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court
Edgewood III (1992) Top
8/27/1991 No. 362,516-A Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD v. Edgewood ISD Travis County 250th District Court
1/30/1992 No. D-1469 Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD et al. v. Edgewood ISD et al.; Judgment and opinion, concurring and dissenting opinions

School finance system found unconstitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court 826 S.W.2d 489 (Tex. 1992) SJR 7, 73rd R.S., Prop 1 (Defeated May 1, 1993)

SB 7, 73rd R.S. (1993)
Edgewood IV (1995) Top
1/26/1994 No. 362,516-B Edgewood ISD v. Lionel R. Meno Travis County 250th District Court
1/30/1995 No. 94-0152 Edgewood ISD v. Lionel R. Meno; Opinion

School finance system found constitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court 917 S.W.2d 717 (Tex. 1995) School finance system found constitutional, therefore, no legislation followed.
West Orange-Cove (WOC) I & II Top
4/9/2001 No. D-1-GV-01-000528 West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD v. Shirley Neeley

Four wealthy school districts filed suit, dismissed by district and appeals courts; then in 2003, Texas Supreme Court remanded case back to the district court for trial.
Travis County 250th District Court
4/11/2002 No. 03-01-00491-CV West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD et al. v. Felipe Alanis et al.; Opinion Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District at Austin 78 S.W.3d 529
5/29/2003 No. 02-0427 West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD v. Felipe Alanis; Opinion (WOC I) Texas Supreme Court 107 S.W.3d 558
11/30/2004 No. D-1-GV-01-000528 West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD v. Shirley Neeley; Final judgment

[opinion summary]

Travis County 250th District Court, Judge John Dietz
11/22/2005 No. 04-1144 Shirley Neeley v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD; Opinion and dissent (WOC II)

School finance system found unconstitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court 176 S.W.3d 746 (Tex. 2005) HB 1, 79th 3rd C.S. (2006)
Note: May 2006. Court case was dissolved by agreement in response to passage of HB 1.
6/21/2007 No. 03-06-00460-CV; trial court: Travis County 250th District Court, No. D-1-GV-01-000528 Shirley Neeley v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated ISD; Opinion (related- attorneys' fees) Texas Third Court of Appeals, Austin 228 S.W.3d 864 (Tex. 2007)
2011 - present Top
8/28/2014 No. D-1-GN-11-003130 Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition et al. v. Michael Williams; Final judgment

[opinion summary]

Travis County 200th District Court, Judge John Dietz
5/13/2016 No. 14-0776 Mike Morath v. Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition et al.; Opinion and concurring opinions

School finance system found constitutional.
[opinion summary]

Texas Supreme Court

Court Documents From Texas School Finance Litigation Top

Texas Supreme Court - No. 14-0776

Michael Williams, Commissioner of Education, et al. v. the Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition, et al.; Calhoun County ISD, et al.; Edgewood ISD, et al.; Fort Bend ISD, et al.; Texas Charter School association, et al.; and Joyce Coleman, et al.

Court decision: School finance system found constitutional. Read a summary of the opinion.

Travis County District Court, 200th Judicial District - No. D-1-GN-11-003130   CLOSE TAB

Texas Taxpayer & Student Fairness Coalition et al., Calhoun County ISD et al., Edgewood ISD et al., and Fort Bend ISD et al. (plaintiffs) and Joyce Coleman et al. (intervenors) v. Michael Williams, Commissioner of Education, et al.
Source: Travis County District Clerk

Texas Third Court of Appeals at Austin, No. 03-06-00460-CV

Shirley Neeley, et al. v. West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District, et al.

Travis County 250th District Court, No. D-1-GV-01-000528

West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District v. Shirley Neeley

Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District at Austin, No. 03-01-00491-CV

West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District, et al. v. Felipe Alanis, et al.

Travis County 250th District Court, No. D-1-GV-01-000528

West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District v. Shirley Neeley

  • 04/09/01 Four wealthy school districts filed suit, dismissed by district and appeals courts; then in 2003, Texas Supreme Court remanded case back to the district court for trial.
  • CLOSE TAB

Texas Supreme Court, No. 94-0152

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. Lionel R. Meno, et al.
Collection location: Texas Supreme Court case files and indexes, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Court decision: School finance system found constitutional. Read a summary of the opinion.

Travis County 250th District Court, No. 362,516-B

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. Lionel R. Meno

Texas Supreme Court, No. D-1469

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, et al. v. Edgewood Independent School District, et al.
Collection location: Texas Supreme Court case files and indexes, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Court decision: School finance system found unconstitutional. Read a summary of the opinion.

Travis County 250th District Court, No. 362,516-A

Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, et al. v. Edgewood Independent School District, et al.

  • 08/27/91 Judgment rendered (pdf not available)

Texas Supreme Court, No. D-0378

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. William Kirby, et al.
Collection location: Texas Supreme Court case files and indexes, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Court decision (Edgewood II): School finance system found unconstitutional. Read a summary of the opinion.

Court decision (Edgewood IIa, Advisory opinion): In response to a motion for rehearing, the Supreme Court issues an "advisory opinion." Read a summary of the advisory opinion.

Travis County 250th District Court, No. 362,516

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. William Kirby

Texas Supreme Court, No. C-8353

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. William Kirby, et al.
Collection location: Texas Supreme Court case files and indexes, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Court decision: School finance system found unconstitutional. Read a summary of the opinion.

Texas Third Court of Appeals at Austin, No. 03-87-190-CV

William Kirby, et al. vs. Edgewood Independent School District, et al.

Travis County District Court, 250th Judicial District, No. 362,516

Edgewood Independent School District, et al. v. William Kirby, et al.
Note: The Travis County District Clerk has included this case in its Historical Records Project.
The trial transcripts linked below are part of the collection at the Tarlton Law Library.

U.S. Supreme Court - No. 71-1332

San Antonio ISD, et al. v. Demetrio P. Rodriguez, et al.
The Supreme Court case file is located at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C.

Court decision (3/21/1973): U.S. Supreme Court reversed decision of the lower court, finding the state system bore rational relationship to furthering state goals of providing minimum education while encouraging local control. [Read more]

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas - Civ. A. No. 68-175-SA

Demetrio P. Rodriguez, et al. v. San Antonio ISD, et al.
Docket sheet for this case obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Ft. Worth, TX.

  • 12/23/71 Opinion
  • Note to reader: A selection of briefs, affidavits, and depositions for this case can be found in the Charles Alan Wright Papers at the Tarlton Law Library in Austin, TX.

Interim Committee Reports  Top

Subjects: School Finance, Educational Adequacy, Educational Equity, Robin Hood

Leg Chamber Committee Report
82nd (2011) Joint Committee to Study Public School Finance System, Interim   Report
81st (2009) Senate Education   Report
80th (2007) Senate Education - Facility Infrastructure   Report
80th (2007) Senate Education   Report
80th (2007) Senate Finance - General Government   Report
80th (2007) Senate Finance Subcommittee on Property Appraisal and Revenue Caps   Report
79th (2005) Senate Education - Joint Charges with Committee on Finance   Report
79th (2005) Senate Finance - Joint Charges with Committee on Education   Report
78th (2003) House Public Education   Report
78th (2003) Joint Public School Finance, Select   Report
77th (2001) Joint Public School Finance, Select   Report
77th (2001) Joint Public School Finance, Select - Appendix B-18 - Kansas School Finance   Report
76th (1999) Senate Education   Report
75th (1997) Senate Funding Issues in Education, Interim   Report
75th (1997) House Revenue and Public Education Funding, Select   Report
74th (1995) Senate Education   Report
74th (1995) House Public Education   Report
73rd (1993) Senate School Facilities, Interim   Report
72nd (1991) Senate Education, Interim   Report
68th (1983) Joint Public Education, Select   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Executive Summary and Recommendations   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Alternative Instruction   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Technology   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Construction, Repair and Debt   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Legislative Implementation and Finance Formulas   Report
67th (1981) Joint Public Education, Select - Education Code   Report
65th (1977) Joint Public School Finance, Legislative Commission   Report
65th (1977) Senate Replacement of Ad Valorem Taxes   Report
64th (1975) House Alternatives to Public School Financing, Special   Report
63rd (1973) House Education   Report
63rd (1973) House Education Subcommittee on Foundations   Report
63rd (1973) House Reorganization and Modernization of Public Education (Committee of 24) Subcommittee on Public School Finance, Interim   Report
63rd (1973) House Reorganization and Modernization of Public Education (Committee of 24), Interim   Report
62nd (1971) Senate Public School Finance, Interim   Report
57th (1961) House Saving Taxes   Report
55th (1957) Joint Public School System (Hale-Aikin Committee of Twenty-Four) - Citizens of Texas recommend a public school program to meet the needs of their children.   Report
55th (1957) Joint Public School System (Hale-Aikin Committee of Twenty-Four) - Proposals to improve public education in Texas.   Report
50th (1947) Joint Public School System of Texas (Gilmer-Aikin), Special   Report
43rd (1933) Senate Fee System   Report
43rd (1933) Senate Fee System - -- Preliminary Report   Report
42nd (1931) House Education   Report
20th (1887) Joint Deficiency in Public School Fund and Delay in Payments of Interest on Land Notes   Report
11th (1866) House Education - Investigation of the propriety of establishing free schools for the free people of Texas   Report

School Finance Bibliography Top

Acknowledgements Top

The library would like to thank the following organizations for their assistance with this project:

  • National Archives, Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, D.C.
  • Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Texas State Law Library
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
  • Texas Third Court of Appeals
  • Travis County Archives
  • Travis County District Clerk's Office
  • Travis County Law Library
  • U.S. Court of Appeals Library for the 5th Circuit, New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio