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Orange County Digest

Orange : School District Sues for Vocational Funds

January 25, 1986|Jeffrey A. Perlman

Although they admit that they are, in effect, double billing the state, Orange Unified School District officials have gone to court to try to get $244,374 in vocational education money denied to the district since 1980.

School trustees filed a lawsuit this week in Orange County Superior Court claiming that the state has failed to honor the longstanding payment request despite court rulings and settlements against California officials involving similar disputes.

An Orange school district spokesman said the dispute stems from a period when a loophole in state law allowed some students to be counted twice for purposes of state funding formulas--once as regular daytime students, and then again as part-time vocational students attending classes at night or on weekends.

The loophole was eventually closed by state legislators, but not before several districts had requested payments that were subsequently denied. Some districts were forced to repay money they had already received, and courts have ordered the state to refund the same money back to schools.

The lawsuit argues that state officials misled Orange school district officials and persuaded them not to file claims for such payments during a period in which the claims were still legal and valid. The suit claims that state officials they did not want to wait for state lawmakers to close the funding loophole.

The suit contends that even though state officials attempted to discourage school districts from applying for the disputed funds before the loophole was closed, some districts were paid, such as the neighboring Garden Grove Unified School District.

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