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Clint ISD receives decision from Texas Supreme Court in lawsuit filed by parents

The Texas Supreme Court Friday issued a decision in a lawsuit filed by parents claiming that the Clint District’s funding of schools was not equitable across the District.

Justice Jeffrey Boyd delivered his opinion for the Court reversing a lower court judgement and dismissed the case due to lack of jurisdiction, concluding that parents must first seek relief through administrative remedies and processes before filing a lawsuit.

For years, some parents have accused the district of spending more on Clint-area students giving them newer materials, smaller class sizes and more opportunities.

With the help of a local civil rights group, two El Paso families filed the lawsuit, accusing the district of directing more funds to certain schools.

The Paseo Del Norte Civil Rights Project found that funding during 2009-2010 per student was $9,983 at Clint High, $8,492 at Montana Vista, and $6,471 Horizon City High.

Clint ISD disagrees with Del Norte’s numbers and says there are many factors determining how campuses are funded like administrative costs.

“Small schools tend to cost more basically because the salary of a principle is the same at a large school than a smaller school. So when you factor in the salary of principles, teachers, counselors and then the number of students then obviously you will determine that your spending more at the school,” said Juan Martinez, Clint ISD superintendent.

Martinez said even something as simple as water use in the area can make a difference.

“In some areas such as Montana Vista we have our own well for water versus Horizon we use city water, in Clint we use irrigation water so there are different factors in every single community depending where they are located,” Martinez said.

Martinez tells ABC-7 federal and state funds are specifically appropriated for students and neither him or the board have control over who gets how much.

“In terms of the education we provide and the funding we provide it is strictly specifically ruled by a formula based on the needs of students,” Martinez said.

To resolve the issue over the long-term, the families that filed a lawsuit say they need to be represented on the school board. To do this, they wanted single member voting districts, which means each area can elect its member to the board directly.

But in a 5-2 vote last month, the Clint Independent School District denied single-member representation for Montana Vista and Horizon City, choosing instead to keep elections at-large.

Electing board members at-large has led to the majority of trustees coming from Clint, leaving Montana Vista and Horizon City residents without representation. Right now 6 out of 7 trustees are from Clint.

In his opinion, Justice Boyd asserted that the Texas Commissioner of Education oversees the district and the board including how they distribute funds and the Commissioner should be allowed to resolve issues and complaints raised by parents.

Juan J. Cruz, Attorney for Clint ISD, said, “We are very pleased with the Texas Supreme Court’s Opinion that solidifies the position that the District has maintained all along – Parents need to present their issues to the Administration and School Board prior to resorting to Court intervention. The Opinion encourages members of the public to have an open dialogue, in good faith, with Administrators and Board Members on any matter affecting the educational mission of the District.”

“Our Firm is extremely grateful to service a fine group of Board Members and Administrators that demonstrated unwavering support and tenacity, which helped achieve an Opinion that will prove useful to all school districts in the State of Texas,” said Mr. Cruz.

Martinez said any parent with concerns over the budget can pay him a visit.

The superintendent also urges residents in Montana Vista and Horizon to attend the budget meetings so they could be involved in the process.

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