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Board of Education v. Walters was an Ohio Supreme Court case in 1979 relating to the funding of primary and secondary schools in Ohio. The Court ruled that the method of funding public schools at the time was constitutional despite disparities in per-pupil education spending between different districts. Article VI of the Ohio Constitution states that the state must provide an "adequate system of public schools." The ruling overturned a previous trial court ruling that stated that the system of funding violated the Constitution of Ohio's requirement of providing a thorough and efficient system of public education. Board of Education v. Walters is considered one of the cases that played a role leading up to DeRolph v. State of Ohio in 1997, which eventually ruled that the model of funding for public schools in Ohio was unconstitutional.
The plaintiffs of this case brought a lawsuit to the court declaring that Ohio held the responsibility to fund its public schools. The school board of Cincinnati had filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Ohio school districts that believed they were underfunded. The plaintiffs believed that the system of funding, a mixture of state and local funding, violated the constitutional requirement to provide enough educational funding to operate a school district. Furthermore, they argued that forcing a school district to adequately fund their district violated the education provisions of the Constitution of Ohio. At the trial court level, the method of funding for public schools was deemed unconstitutional. However, on appeal, the Ohio Supreme Court reversed the decision and upheld the constitutionality of the school funding method.
The Ohio Supreme Court justices argued that despite the inequalities that existed between school districts in terms of funding and ability to raise local revenue, there was no basis to strike down the funding method. They agreed with the defendant, in this case the Cincinnati Board of Education, that local control of school districts served as a rationale to defend the funding inequalities. The court stated that the local control of school districts "meant not only the freedom to devote more money to the education of one's children but also control over and participation in the decision-making process as to how those local tax dollars are to be spent."
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