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Tue April 13, 2010
MI Supreme Court hears Lansing school district case
By Kevin Lavery, WKAR News
Lansing, MI – LANSING, MI (WKAR) - The Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case brought by Lansing public school teachers against the city school board. At issue is whether the teachers had grounds to sue the district in the first place.
Several Lansing teachers who claimed they were assaulted by students sued the school board when it chose to suspend rather than expel the students. State law requires expulsion in specific cases.
The appellate court ruled the teacher had no standing, or basis, to file suit because they had no legally protected interest in the board's decision.
Teachers' attorney Michael Shoudy wants the court to overturn its definition of standing.
"Hopefully it means that there will be a declaration here of the rights and responsibilities of the parties, and the Lansing school district and Lansing school board will take the physical assaultive conduct of students against teachers and volunteers seriously," Shoudy said.
The defendants argue that state law authorizes school boards to make disciplinary decisions, and that teachers cannot compel the courts to change that policy.
Attorney Meg Hackett represents the Lansing school board.
"And that it's not appropriate for a citizen that's unhappy with that decision to then invoke the jurisdiction of the court and say, well we didn't like what the legislative branch came up with, and try to have the court somehow compel this other branch of government to decide this the way we want it decided," says Hackett.