Severely Handicapped Pupils Education Costs In California
In Lucia Mar Unified School Dist. v. Honig (1988) 44 Cal. 3d 830 the Legislature had enacted a measure to require local school districts to contribute part of the costs of educating pupils from the district at state schools for the severely handicapped.
Before and after the measure, the state retained complete administrative control over the special schools.
Before the measure, the state had borne the entire cost of operating such schools.
Under these circumstances, the Supreme Court found that the measure constituted a "new program" within the meaning of the subvention requirement because otherwise the requirement "would plainly be violated if the state could, while retaining administrative control of programs it has supported with state tax money, simply shift the cost of the programs to local government . . . ." (Lucia Mar Unified School Dist. v. Honig, supra, 44 Cal. 3d at p. 836.)
In Lucia Mar Unified School Dist. v. Honig, the Supreme Court did not decide that the measure constituted a reimbursable state mandate.
The possible existence of reasonable alternatives to the use of state-operated schools left open the question whether the contributions were mandated, and the court deferred to the Commission for resolution of that issue. (Lucia Mar, supra, 44 Cal. 3d at pp. 836-837.)
The decision in Lucia Mar Unified School Dist. v. Honig turned on the dual factors that:
(1) before the measure, the state had borne the entire cost of the special schools, and (2) before and after the measure, the state retained administrative control over the special schools. (44 Cal. 3d at p. 836, especially fn. 8 noting the decision involved the "new program" rather than "higher level of service" aspect of the subvention requirement; see also County of San Diego v. State of California (1997) 15 Cal. 4th 68, 99, fn. 20 61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 134, 931 P.2d 312.)
The matter of funding education is a shared responsibility between state and local taxpayers. (See, e.g., Ed. Code, 14000.)
The division of this responsibility has been in a state of flux since 1971, as the result of certain developments, including the decision in Serrano v. Priest (1971) 5 Cal. 3d 584 96 Cal. Rptr. 601, 487 P.2d 1241, 41 A.L.R.3d 1187 holding that equal protection requires equal funding of schools, and the addition to the Constitution of article XIII a limiting local property taxation.
See California Teachers Assn. v. Hayes (1992) 5 Cal. App. 4th 1513, 1526-1527 7 Cal. Rptr. 2d 699; see also County of Los Angeles v. Sasaki, supra, 23 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 1450-1452 noting that by fiscal year 1991-1992, the share of local property tax revenue allocated to K-14 schools had dropped to 35 percent from the 53 percent that it had been in the 1977-1978 fiscal year (at p. 1452).