School Dist. of Stockbridge v. Evers

In School Dist. of Stockbridge v. Evers, 2010 WI App 144, 330 Wis. 2d 80, 792 N.W.2d 615, 616 (Wis. Ct. App. 2010), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals determined "whether a resident school district may limit the number of student transfers to non-resident school districts under the statute or, in the alternative, limit the number of transfers via an exercise of its general authority . . . ." The plaintiffs--parents filed for administrative review with the superintendent against the defendant--school district ("school district") when it denied their childrens' applications to attend school in an adjoining county. Id. at 617. The school district averred that funding the students to a non-resident district placed an undue financial burden on it. Id. at 620. The superintendent reversed the school district's ruling, stating that its decision was "arbitrary and unreasonable." Id. at 617. The school district filed a petition for judicial review, and the trial court affirmed. Id. at 618. The Wisconsin statute provided in pertinent part that "'a pupil may attend a public school . . . in a non-resident school district under this section.'" Id. On appeal, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals noted that the only reasons that its legislature offered to enforce a limitation on the number of students who applied for permission to attend an out-of-county school was (1) racial balance and (2) a financial burden regarding special education services only. Id. at 621. The statute did not, however, provide for an exception relating to the entire district's financial well-being. Id. Therefore, although the Court acknowledged possible financial concerns, it was not a statutory reason to deny open enrollment applications for non-resident students. Id. at 622. The Court affirmed the superintendent's ruling. Id.