Judge sides with Franklin Township Schools in bus fee suit

Parents plan to appeal

INDIANAPOLIS - A judge has sided with Franklin Township Schools in a class-action lawsuit over bus fees.

A group of parents led by Lora Hoagland filed the lawsuit in 2011 after the district stopped providing bus service, instead contracting with a company that charged families $475 a year to ride the bus.

This week, a judge ruled in favor of the school corporation, saying discontinuing bus service did not violate the state's Constitution.

The district has since restored bus service, free of charge.

Superintendent Flora Reichanadter said the ruling is a step forward.

"I am relieved that the court ruled in favor of the Franklin Township Community School Corporation, and we can finally put this issue behind us," she said in a statement. "This ruling also reinforces how carefully the district weighed the impact of every cost-cutting measure, and that it did not violate the Indiana Constitution in its effort to continue providing award-winning education during a fiscal crisis."

But the parents behind the class-action suit said they plan to appeal the ruling.

"We knew from the beginning that this case was going to be decided in the higher courts. Whether the trial judge ruled in our favor or FTCSC's favor, the other side was going to appeal, which in this case, we plan to appeal to the higher courts," a statement read. "This is not over, it truly has just been pushed to the next level of the judicial system."

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued opinions in 2010 and 2011 saying school districts can't charge for bus transportation, even when it's done through a third party.

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