Attorney general wants lawsuit against school district dismissed

Staff reporter

Raymond Brandt of rural Hillsboro brought suit in June 2007, against USD 410, claiming that joint ownership of an athletic field between the school district and Tabor College isn't allowed by state statute, nor is using general obligation bonds for that purpose allowed.

Kansas Attorney General Stephen Six recently filed a petition in Marion County District Court that asked the action be dismissed and assess costs incurred by Six's office to Brandt.

The original lawsuit, filed by attorney Susan Schrag of Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy of Wichita, contends that state statute only allows the school district to issue general obligation bonds for those buildings and properties owned by the district. Therefore, in Brandt's and Schrag's opinion, the district had no right to issue them.

Patrons of USD 410 passed the $6.6 million bond issue in June 2007, with approximately $2,016,541 of those funds to be used to pay a portion of the cost to construct, equip, and furnish a new athletic facility on the Tabor College campus. The project included a new competition football field and track that would be used by the school district and the college, lighting, locker rooms, bleachers, press box, field event area, parking lot improvements, and other amenities.

Tabor College had committed to matching the school district's contribution for the project.

The remainder of bond funds are being used to make improvements at Hillsboro Elementary School which includes an addition, new kitchen and dining/commons area, renovations to administrative office and parking improvements, a new locker room and weight room at Hillsboro High School, the construction and furnishing of a maintenance/transportation facility, and renovations to the district's central office.

An amended petition was filed in February against the school district and Six, claiming that the attorney general's office had approved an interlocal cooperation agreement between the school district and Tabor College on Jan. 8. The document stated Six should not have approved the interlocal agreement because it did not meet state statute requirements.

The petition asked Six to withdraw and nullify his action of approving the agreement.

Six responded in a document filed March 14, stating "The plaintiff (Brandt) lacks standing to assert his claims against the attorney general because he is not a party to the interlocal cooperation agreement and therefore is not injured by its approval." Kansas law does not create a private right of action for the plaintiff to assert his claims against the attorney general, the petition stated.

A release had been filed which allowed the school district to commence with the projects at the elementary and high schools but not at the college.

No court date had been set for the actions to be reviewed.