Idahoans Challenge Fees for ‘Free’ Public Schools [short]

Published October 21, 2012

More than 280,000 students and their guardians are suing Idaho and all its school districts for charging kids fees to attend “free, common schools.” Former Idaho superintendent Russ Joki is leading the charge. He had to pay $90 to enroll his two granddaughters in kindergarten in 2012, and $85 to register his grandson at Meridian High School.

Anecdotal evidence suggests this practice is increasing nationwide, but precise figures are hard to come by, says Joshua Dunn, a political science professor at the University of Colorado­–Colorado Springs.

The Wall Street Journal documented districts in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio charging fees for registration, lockers, student identification cards, technology access, graduation, and certain courses.

If the suit succeeds, school districts will have to refund or the state must appropriate money to pay the previous year’s fees, an estimated $2 million.

“Some school districts, not only in Idaho but across the country, instead of cutting back in the light of economic conditions, are just finding new ways to squeeze money out of Idaho school patrons,” said Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. “No amount of money is ever enough.”

Image by S. Jelan.