Breaking: State Supreme Court reversed Judge Zeman on correspondence programs in Alaska

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On Friday, Alaska unanimously reversed a lower court ruling that had ruled that state funding of Alaska’s correspondence school programs was unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman said that, on its face, the correspondence school funding in Alaska was unconstitutional.

On Thursday the Supreme Court heard the arguments, and said the plaintiffs failed in their attempts to challenge the law.

“We reverse the superior court’s ruling that AS 14.03.300-.310 are facially unconstitutional. When a court rules a statute facially unconstitutional, it strikes down the statute in its entirety.5 By contrast, a court may rule a statute unconstitutional as applied to a certain set of facts, while leaving the statute in effect as applied to other scenarios. Plaintiffs face a high bar when trying to show that a statute should be ruled facially unconstitutional.”

Judge Zeman’s ruling was about to go into effect after it had been postponed from immediately being effective. He set June 30 as the effective date for his ruling, giving the Alaska Supreme Court and the State’s attorneys little time to pull together their case to defend the individualized learning that over 24,000 Alaska students use.

By not extending the stay, Zeman said that the Dunleavy Administration was not likely to win its appeal.

“Accordingly, this Court finds that a limited stay is the best solution to ensure that students, families, and school districts are protected from undue disruption and all parties are protected from unnecessary uncertainty and related harms. A limited stay until the end of the fiscal year will ensure that any correspondence allotments that were taken in reliance on AS 14.03.300-310, will be honored, while minimizing the potential for continued unfettered unconstitutional spending,” Zeman had written.

But Zeman was wrong and the Alaska Supreme Court said so in plain language in its reversal of Zeman’s ruling.

Taking a loss as an attorney for the plaintiffs was political lawyer Scott Kendall. As the court put it, “there are many constitutionally permissible uses of allotment funds. The parties all seem to agree that school districts can approve the use of allotment funds by students enrolled in correspondence study to purchase books, computers, and art supplies from private businesses. And the parties seem to agree that allotment funds can be spent on martial arts classes at a private gym and pottery lessons at an artist’s studio.”

Further, the Supreme Court said, “None of these uses of allotment funds entails a ‘direct benefit’ to a ‘religious or other private educational institution.’”

For those reasons, the Court decided unanimously to “reverse both the superior court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Alexander and its denial of the State’s motion to dismiss.”

The court decided to not rule on the issue of private school tuition and the justices complimented the filers of the amicus briefs on behalf of the correspondence students around the state.

Read the ruling here:

25 COMMENTS

  1. This is what is real about the constant barrage of attempts to make everyone indentured to the government. The reality is that there are many private avenues to educate kids that are much better and much more efficient with regard to expense per student hour.

    • Remember, we are the voters that put the law makers in who gave us the government. Us conservatives need to get out and vote instead of complaining about the the voting process.

      • We are not the voters that put these thugs in. A rigged election system put these lawmakers in.
        True that everyone needs to get out and vote. Well, everyone except the illegals who have no business voting in our nation.

    • 3rd Generation, we are not the voters that put these thugs in. A rigged election system put these lawmakers in.
      True that everyone needs to get out and vote. Well, everyone except the illegals who have no business voting in our nation.

  2. Good riddance to a particularly brazen example of judicial activism!

    The question now is whether a judge who deliberately violated the law in order to derail Dunleavy’s education reform efforts in the legislature this year (and was successful in doing so) will face the music for his abuse of power.

    One thing is certain; the NEA owes him big time.

    As always in politics, the people have the last word. Their elected representatives can and should respond to such an infringement on their constitutional authority to decide what the laws are.

    Judges like Zeman have never been elected to anything and have no business making laws or vetoing them.

    • Hear hear!

      Anytime Scott Kendall loses, the people win!

      Even our radical Leftist Alaska Supreme Court couldn’t side with the extremism of the NEA and Kendall. I’m grateful for this show of decency by the Alaska Supreme Court’s by supporting students and the legislative process.

      If only they’d go after the corrupt Anchorage School District who closed a nationally recognized outstanding charter school and stole millions in designated student funding…

  3. Very good news for our youth. Creating uncertainty for families and homeschool administrators, and the bold fascistic iron fisted attempt to block the use of the kids’ monies for their best educational options through misused “lawfare” illustrates the decayed and corrupt system in power.
    The decision “to not rule on the issue of private school tuition” is very disappointing. Families have a right to use their children’s education funds in any manner that is best for them, as they see fit. The best thing for public education is to create the need for them to compete in offering the critical need of education in highest quality.

  4. Yet another example how the judicial process figures things out and ultimately gets the decision correct according to the constitution. All the tedious whining and carping about judges being liberal hacks by a pile of commentators if this publication turned out to be premature, especially the screed by one “The Masked Avenger.”
    What is he avenging and what’s withe the mask anyway dude?
    Onward.

  5. I found it quite interesting that the Court did not even mention religious schools in its ruling, even though the Dunleavy administration had originally argued that the real issue was religious freedom and had accepted the free services of the First Liberty Institute, a Texas law firm that specializes in religious freedom cases.

  6. This isn’t a win. It’s an extension of a temporary stay while the funding is removed via through a different legal mechanism.

    • Yes, so true. Everyone will relax and ignore the ongoing attack and it will end just like NEA/Kendall/ASD want it.

      A real win would look like this:

      1. Corrupt administrator that was siphoning money off a charter school and attacking its board members would be put in jail and lose all education certifications. Those helping her could also spend hard time in the cell with her.

      2. Corrupt school board president who stole millions from students by closing a great school against a massive public outcry would have to own her egregious mistakes and procedural errors and would be banned from current and future participation in politics along with her lackies.

      3. Unqualified Superintendent would be sent back to the district he destroyed before coming here. It was taken over by the state because of the failure of the people he put in place there.

      4. Voters would wake up and elect decent, moderate, fiscally responsible people the school board. If only…

      5. NEA and Kendall would be permanently banned from the state of Alaska for the endless harm they have caused students and citizens.

      6. Association of Alaska School Boards would be permanently defunded and dismantled. All involved would be permanently banned from providing their politically skewed and illegal advice to anyone.

      7. Zeman would have to face the music for his incredible overreach and be faced with the choice to never again create judgments based on politics or be disbarred.

      8. Those hurt along the way in this would be made whole by the State of Alaska.

      9. Students would receive an outstanding education and families could cautiously trust public education.

      That would be a nearly complete win. We’re very far from even the tiniest bit of that.

      • This assault on access to quality education opportunities is remarkable only in how openly brazen it was. An ignorant and fearful public is essential to maintain the current power structure. Securing access for students to a variety of options in a competitive market environment is essential, and exactly what the NEA seeks to suppress.

  7. Listening to the oral arguments it was clear that the justices were very concerned that the NEA-AK was suing the wrong party-the Department of Education & Early Development. The justices wondered why the school districts were not being sued because they were the ones responsible for approving all homeschool funding.

    The biggest question now is: “Will the NEA-AK sue the Anchorage School District and other districts?”. This could be an act of cannibalism or a circular firing squad!

  8. What Zeman ruled was you do not throw out the entire bushel because of a few bad apples. You have to sue the bad apples individually. In this case the apples are school districts that disbursed State money for the direct benefit of any religeous institution. This is black and white in the State Constitution. We can anticipate lawsuits against individual school districts in the near future.

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