The legal challenge to the new Salt Lake high school boundaries is over.
Third District Presiding Judge Scott Daniels ruled Thursday afternoon that the Salt Lake Board of Education acted within its legal authority in establishing boundaries to achieve three equal high schools.Friday a spokeswoman for the fund-raising group behind the lawsuit, Citizens for Better Schools, said that the group does not plan an appeal.
"It's been terribly expensive. I think we'll leave it where it is," said Arla Funk, a member of the organization's board of governors.
She said the group still owes thousands of dollars in legal fees and does not have the resources to finance an appeal.
"We've paid for it twice," she said. "The school board has unlimited resources because we, as taxpayers, pay for the individuals, the attorneys, who opposed us."
She also said the decision leaves the organization's future in doubt. Many who joined the group because they were interested in seeking improvements in the schools have since dropped out because of the organization's concentration on the lawsuit.
But there are still several hundred members, and they will have to meet to decide the organization's future, Funk said.
With the financial backing of Citizens for Better Schools, the lawsuit was filed March 4 in 3rd District Court on behalf of five parents who opposed the boundaries. Originally, the suit sought an injunction against the boundaries, but later the plaintiffs asked that the court require the school board to come up with a different plan.
They argued that the school board's decision violated state and federal law.
In July, U.S. District Judge David K. Winder dismissed the federal claims and sent the lawsuit back to 3rd District Court to rule if the school board had overstepped its state-given authority.
In his decision, Daniels said school board has the authority to "do what is `necessary' to promote education.
"The court must sustain the action of the board if under any reasonable view the function in question can be considered `necessary,' " the ruling said.
"The balancing of the student body along social, racial and economic lines can be defended as a legitimate part of the education process.
"Certainly the board may believe that students get a better educational experience in such an environment," Daniels said. "Plaintiffs and many others may disagree, but their remedy is at the ballot box, not in the courts."
Superintendent John W. Bennion said there was never any doubt in his mind that the board's actions were appropriate and within its authority. He also said that the lawsuit had no effect on the school district's operation during the last few months.
"I'm glad it's resolved so as not to leave any lingering doubts about the propriety of the decisions that were made. I hope it will have a settling influence on the community," Bennion said.