- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal Monday from parents who wanted the ability to raise property taxes above a state cap in their wealthy suburban Kansas City school district.

The Shawnee Mission school district parents argued state school funding is inadequate, and sought to bypass a provision in state law and ask voters for a tax hike to fund schools. The court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a decision from the U.S. Appeals Court in Denver, which ruled in June that that the federal court couldn’t override the state’s funding plan.

The appeals court said a state could have legitimate reasons to cap spending, such as avoiding a teacher salary war among districts.

The Kansas Legislature instituted the cap to prevent wealthy districts from having an unfair advantage over poorer ones. The case will continue in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.

“There is reason to be optimistic going forward,” said Tristan Duncan, lawyer for the parents.

The parents’ contend capping the amount of tax revenue a district can spend on schools violates the parents’ constitutional right to equal protection of the law. They contend the cap prevents their district from achieving funding equality with other districts, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1IQ59Pq ).

“The Supreme Court may not have wanted to take up these important constitutional questions until we exhaust all our lower court remedies,” Duncan said.

The case, which was filed in 2010, is separate from another school funding case that is now before the Kansas Supreme Court. That lawsuit by four school districts argues that the state has failed to fully fund schools, violating a requirement of the Kansas Constitution.

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