Newspaper files lawsuit, says coalition of schools is public entity

KANSAS –A newspaper filed a lawsuit late last monthto obtain financial information from a coalition of school districts thatsuccessfully sued the state last year to increase government funding for Kansaspublic schools.

The TopekaCapital-Journal filed a lawsuit July 28 against Schools for Fair FundingInc., an organization that helped a group of 18 Kansas school districts sue thestate for increased educational funding, according to an Associated Pressarticle.

PeteGoering, executive editor of the newspaper, said The Capital-Journal had asked for thefinancial records of Schools for Fair Funding dating back to 1999, but theorganization refused, and instead only offered to provide its records sinceJanuary.

Goering said that because Schools for Fair Funding receivesmoney from public school districts, its records should be open for examination.

“They’re receiving public money, they’re receivingtaxpayer money,” Goering said. “Schools are giving them money, andthat’s the basis of our suit, is that this is public money, and the publicdeserves to know how much has been spent and what its goingfor.”

But Alan Rupe, attorney for Schools for Fair Funding,said the organization is an independent, non-profit organization so the recordsshould be private.

“They are probably taking that positionbecause it sells papers,” Rupe said. “The truth is we are willing tocooperate with them and have in fact offered to disclose someinformation.”

Rupe said he doubts that any sort of pre-trialsettlement will be reached because the attorney for The Capital-Journal, Mike Merriam, sent himan e-mail stating that the newspaper wanted to use the case to set a courtprecedent for accessing information from similar institutions in thefuture.

Merriam could not be reached forcomment.