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McMorrow v. Benson – Case Brief Summary (Wisconsin)

In McMorrow v. Benson, 2000 WI App 173, 238 Wis. 2d 329, 617 N.W.2d 247, 251-52 (Wis. Ct. App. 2000), the plaintiff--student desired to finish the last two years of his secondary education in a non-resident school district. He submitted his application to the non-resident district, but it was denied. Id. at 252.

The plaintiff appealed to the defendant--superintendent ("superintendent"), who affirmed the school district's decision because of class size guidelines. Id.

The plaintiff then filed a petition for judicial review to the trial court. Id. The trial court reversed, and found that there was no substantial evidence that there was an issue with available space, and concluded that the superintendent's decision was arbitrary and capricious. Id. The superintendent then noted an appeal. Id.

On appeal, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals discussed the class sizes of the grade that the plaintiff sought, and found that two of the six curriculum courses were beyond the maximum capacity. Id. at 254.

However, the Court noted that this did not hinder the school district's decision to permit other students to continue their education at the non-resident school. Id. The superintendent argued that pursuant to the statute, current non-residents received first priority. Id.

The Court disagreed, stating that the statute provided that, "when there are more applicants than spaces available, the pupils accepted shall be determined on a random basis." Id. at 255.

Because the statute was clear and unambiguous, the Court reversed the superintendent's ruling, indicating that "it was arbitrary and unreasonable to make an exception to the class size guidelines to admit three students into the 11th grade, but deny the plaintiff's admission without a valid reason." Id.