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School-funding case dismissed

A seven-judge panel has dismissed a lawsuit filed by school districts, parents, and organizations contending that Pennsylvania's system of education funding is broken.

Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pelligrini found that school funding is a legislative issue and not a legal matter.

Parents, including two from the Philadelphia School District, and districts including the William Penn system in Delaware County, filed the suit last fall, saying that state officials had "adopted an irrational school funding system that does not deliver the essential resources students need and discriminates against children based on where they live and the wealth of their communities."

The plaintiffs were represented by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the Education Law Center-Pa.

Other, similar suits had failed in the past, but attorneys had hoped that the adoption of statewide academic standards and exams would force the court's hand and convince judges that Pennsylvania was not providing an adequate education.

During oral arguments, held in March in Harrisburg, attorneys for the state said that it was meeting its constitutional obligation simply by keeping schools open.

Plaintiffs' attorneys called that a "19th-century standard of what an adequate school is."

The suit had been long-awaited in Philadelphia, where budget cuts have rocked the district. Mayoral candidate Lynne Abraham had used it as part of her education platform, saying she would join the suit to force Harrisburg to better fund schools.