Vice-Chancellor Laster, a Chancery Court for the State of Delaware judge, finally ruled on the Red Clay referendum lawsuit. The very long ruling, clocking in at 186 pages, blasts Delaware’s antiquated method of property tax assessment and delves deep into education funding as a whole for the state of Delaware.
The final ruling, issued today, found fault with Red Clay for going over the line with their Parent Events at 23 Red Clay schools during their February 2015 referendum. But he also stated that the entire referendum process is one of great pressure for school districts and individuals in those situations can dance around what is wrong or right. He found they did not act with intended malice but for the public good since referendum results in the positive bring public schools money to fund them. As a result, he ruled against Red Clay redoing the entire referendum and refunding taxes already paid from it.
The lawsuit was filed by an elderly couple and their daughter through the Delaware American Civil Liberties Union. The plaintiffs claimed they were not able to vote because of inadequate parking due to the parent events staged to bring in positive votes for the referendum.
The ruling suggests no referenda in Delaware would ever have to take place if properties were assessed based on current home values.
This is an amazing read if you are at all interested in current education funding in Delaware. With Colonial facing a must-pass referendum or several teachers and educators will be let go, this decision could have a major bearing on any events they might be planning for their 2nd referendum attempt this year in the beginning of June.
This will be a big question for future referenda in Delaware. Does this ruling set a precedent for all referenda that no events can be held at schools during a referendum?