Breaking News

Court Certifies Class in Foster Care Litigation

U. S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver granted class-action status in the litigation that the Center filed 2 ½ years ago against the state, on behalf of a number of foster children. The ruling (available here) was issued September 30, 2017. A trial is expected in spring 2018.  

According to Center attorney Anne Ronan, “it's no longer about one, two or three foster children; rather, it's about the thousands of children in Arizona's foster-care system, as well as any children who will enter the system in the future.” The Court certified three classes:  1) the General Class: All children who are or will be in the legal custody of DCS due to a report or suspicion of abuse or neglect; 2) the Non-Kinship Subclass: All members in the General Class who are not placed in the care of an adult relative or person who has a significant relationship with the child; and 3) the Medicaid Subclass: All members of the General Class who are entitled to early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment services under the federal Medicaid statute.

Arizona had nearly 17,000 children in foster care as of March 31, 2017, its latest report shows. In August, 900 children entered the system when they were removed from their homes due to allegations of abuse and neglect, according to the Department of Child Safety. 

 

Civil Rights

Arizona Supreme Court Grants Petition for Review in Medicaid Expansion Case

On September 12, 2017, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an order granting review of the Court of Appeals’ decision in the Medicaid Expansion case. The Court of Appeals held in March 2017 that the bill authorizing the hospital assessment was constitutional and did not require a supermajority vote.  The parties submitted their supplemental briefs on October 2nd and the Court will hear oral argument on October 26th.  

 

Health Care

State Moves to Dismiss Capital Funding Case

In late August the State moved to dismiss the Center’s lawsuit filed on behalf of public school districts across the state challenging the State's failure to adequately fund public schools. The state asserted that the Court has no authority to decide if the state is providing enough money. It claims that funding is a “political question” beyond the powers of the courts.

 

However, as the plaintiffs’ counsel pointed out in their Response to the motion, that argument ignores the fact that the Arizona Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1994 that the capital funding scheme in place at that time violated the requirements of the Arizona Constitution for the state to provide a “general and uniform” school system. The high court reaffirmed that in two subsequent decisions.

 

The state also argued that the challengers have to first be denied the funding by the School Facilities Board before they can ask the court to intercede. However, the School Facilities Board does not have the power or authority to deal with the shortcomings of the school finance system, so that argument is similarly without merit.  

Education