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Craven v. Huppenthal

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

November 18, 2014

D. JEFFREY and LYNDA CRAVEN; TRACY BRAATZ; STEVEN GEORGE DANNER; JOANNE HOPMEYER; MARY FOLEY and CYNTHIA ZAK-SLETTE, Plaintiffs/Appellants,
v.
JOHN HUPPENTHAL, Superintendent of Public Instruction; STATE OF ARIZONA and ARIZONA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants/Appellees, CREIGHTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 14; ARIZONA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION, Intervenors/Appellees

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No.CV2009-029436. The Honorable J. Richard Gama, Judge.

For Plaintiffs/Appellants: Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber, Schreck, LLP, Phoenix, By Kory A. Langhofer, Chase A. Bales.

For Defendants/Appellees: Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix, By Kevin D. Ray, Leslie Kyman Cooper, Jordan T. Ellel.

For Intervenors/Appellees: Peters, Cannata & Moody, PLC, Phoenix, By Donald M. Peters.

Presiding Judge Margaret H. Downie delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Andrew W. Gould and Judge Samuel A. Thumma joined.

OPINION

Page 325

[236 Ariz. 218] DOWNIE, Judge:

[¶1] Appellants are parents of children who attend charter schools in Arizona. They contend the statutory framework for financing charter schools violates the equal protection and general and uniform clauses of the state constitution. For the following reasons, we affirm the superior court's grant of summary judgment against Appellants.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] Appellants sued the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, and the State of Arizona, seeking injunctive relief as well as a judicial declaration that Arizona's statutory funding scheme for charter schools is unconstitutional because it results in " gross disparities between public charter schools and other district public schools." [1] The Arizona School Boards Association and Creighton Elementary School District No. 14 intervened as defendants. According to Appellants, the alleged disparities arise because Arizona statutes make funding sources available to district schools that are unavailable to charter schools. Appellants further allege that, were charter schools " to receive funding that is substantially equal to their friends and neighbors who attend district public schools, their public charter schools would be able to provide additional services that would enrich their students' educational experience and enhance their educational opportunities."

[¶3] On cross-motions for summary judgment, the superior court ruled that a rational basis exists for funding charter and district schools differently and dismissed Appellants' equal protection challenge. In dismissing claims predicated on the general and uniform clause of the Arizona Constitution, the superior court concluded no substantial disparity exists because Appellants concede their children's charter school educations are adequate and because " charter and [public] schools are different, [so] the Legislature may fund them differently."

[¶4] Appellants timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) sections 12-120.21(A)(1) and -2101(A)(1).

DISCUSSION

I. Standard of Review


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