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EFiled: Oct 04 2016 05:38PM EDT

Transaction ID 59649335
Case No. 12800-

IN THE COURT OF CHANCERY FOR THE STATE OF DELAWARE

LAS AMERICAS ASPIRA ACADEMY,


ACADEMIA ANTONIA ALONSO,
DELAWARE ACADEMY OF PUBLIC
SAFETY AND SECURITY, EASTSIDE
CHARTER SCHOOL OF WILMINGTON,
INC., FAMILY FOUNDATIONS
ACADEMY, INC., FIRST STATE
MONTESSORI ACADEMY INC.,
FREIRE CHARTER SCHOOL OF
WILMINGTON, GATEWAY CHARTER
SCHOOL, INC., GREAT OAKS
WILMINGTON CHARTER SCHOOL,
KUUMBA ACADEMY CHARTER
SCHOOL, INC., MOT CHARTER
SCHOOL, INC., NEWARK CHARTER
SCHOOL, INC., ODYSSEY CHARTER
SCHOOL, INC., PROVIDENCE CREEK
ACADEMY, INC., THOMAS EDISON
CHARTER SCHOOL OF WILMINGTON,
RICARDO CARRASQUILLO for his
minor child S.C., CLISSITA PATRICK
for her minor children K.B.P., N.P., J.P.H.,
K.P.H. and D.S., ALEXIS SIMMS for her
minor children, M.H., L.S. and K.S., and
DALYNNE VICK for her minor children,
E.V. and I.V.,

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Plaintiffs,
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v.
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CHRISTINA SCHOOL DISTRICT, MR. )
ROBERT SILBER, personally and in his
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official capacity as Chief Financial Officer )
of Christina School District, DELAWARE )
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, DR.
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STEVEN GODOWSKY, in his official
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C.A. No.___________

capacity as Secretary of Education for the


Delaware Department of Education,
Defendants.

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VERIFIED COMPLAINT
Under Delaware law, students and their families may choose to attend their
regular district school or, as an alternative, may choose from among schools
managed by other districts or independently managed charter schools. If a student
in a particular school district chooses to attend either a regular public school in
another school district or a charter school, the home school district is required to
transfer to the chosen school or district a share of local property tax revenues equal
to the preceding years local cost per student. See generally 14 Del. C. 408, 509.
The claims asserted in this Complaint arise from: a) Defendant Christina School
Districts (Christina) unlawful withholding of a large portion of such funds,
thus depriving some of its own resident students of the equal funding intended by
Delaware law; b) for prior years, the Delaware Department of Educations
(DOE) complicity in Christinas misappropriation of funds belonging to the
Plaintiff Charter Schools; and c) for the current school year (FY 17), DOEs
wrongful attempt to reverse its August 12, 2016 decision that certified the local
cost per student under 14 Del. C. 509. DOEs role regarding revenues from
local property taxes levied by Christina was that of a fiduciary stakeholder,

directed by State statute. The Plaintiffs, seeking injunctive, declaratory and


monetary relief, allege as follows:
THE PARTIES
1.

Plaintiff Las Americas ASPIRA Academy (ASPIRA) is a Delaware

non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law


in 2009. It operates a charter school at 326 Ruthar Drive, Newark, DE 19711.
ASPIRA educates students resident in Christina School District.
2.

Plaintiff Academia Antonia Alonso (Academia) is a Delaware non-

stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law in


November 2011. It operates a charter school at 4403 Lancaster Pike #26,
Wilmington, DE 19805. Academia educates students resident in Christina School
District.
3.

Plaintiff Delaware Academy of Public Safety and Security

(DAPSS) is a Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to


the General Corporation Law in 2010. It operates a charter school at 801 North
Dupont Highway, New Castle, DE 19720. DAPSS educates students resident in
Christina School District.
4.

Plaintiff EastSide Charter School of Wilmington, Inc. (EastSide) is

a Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in 1996. It operates a charter school at 3000 North Claymont
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Street, Wilmington, DE 19802. EastSide educates students resident in Christina


School District.
5.

Plaintiff Family Foundations Academy, Inc. (Family Foundations)

is a Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in April 2004. It operates a charter school on two campuses the
elementary school is located at 170 Lukens Drive, New Castle, DE 19720 and the
middle school is located at 160 Lukens Drive, New Castle, DE 19720. Family
Foundations educates students resident in Christina School District.
6.

Plaintiff First State Montessori Academy, Inc. (FSMA) is a

Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in November 2009. It operates a charter school on two campuses
the elementary school is at 1000 North French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
and the middle school is at 920 North French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801.
FSMA educates students resident in Christina School District.
7.

Plaintiff Freire Charter School of Wilmington (Freire) is a

Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in November 2013. It operates a charter school at 201 West 14th
Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. Freire educates students resident in Christina
School District.

8.

Plaintiff Gateway Charter School, Inc. (GLS) is a Delaware non-

stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law in


2009. It operates a charter school at 2501 Centerville Road, Wilmington, DE
19808. GLS educates students resident in Christina School District.
9.

Plaintiff Great Oaks Wilmington Charter School (GO-WIL) is a

Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in December 2013. It opened in 2015 and operates a charter
school at 1200 North French Street, Wilmington, DE 19801. GO-WIL educates
students resident in Christina School District.
10.

Plaintiff Kuumba Academy Charter School, Inc. (Kuumba) is a

Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in 1998. It operates a charter school at 1200 North French Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801. Kuumba educates students resident in Christina School
District.
11.

Plaintiff MOT Charter School, Inc. (MOT) is a Delaware non-

stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law in


2002. It operates a K-8 Academy at 1156 Levels Road, Middletown, DE 19709
and a high school at 1275 Cedar Lane Road, Middletown, DE 19709. MOT
educates students resident in Christina School District.

12.

Plaintiff Newark Charter School, Inc. (Newark Charter) is a

Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in 1999. It operates a charter school on two campuses one
location at 2001 Patriot Way, Newark, DE 19711 and a second location at 200
McIntire Drive, Newark, DE 19711. Newark Charter educates students resident in
Christina School District.
13.

Plaintiff Odyssey Charter School Inc. (Odyssey) is a Delaware non-

stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law in


2004. Odyssey operates a charter school in two buildings at Barley Mill Plaza,
4319 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, DE 19805. Odyssey educates students resident
in Christina School District.
14.

Plaintiff Providence Creek Academy, Inc. (PCA) is a Delaware

non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General Corporation Law


in 2001. 1 It operates a charter school at 273 West Duck Creek Road, Clayton, DE
19938. PCA educates students resident in Christina School District.
15.

Plaintiff Thomas Edison Charter School of Wilmington (TECS) is

a Delaware non-stock, non-profit corporation formed pursuant to the General


Corporation Law in 1997. It operates a charter school at 2200 N. Locust Street,

Providence Creek originally operated as the Charter School of Southern


New Castle County and changed its name to Providence Creek in 2001.
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Wilmington, DE 19802. TECS educates students resident in Christina School


District.
16.

Plaintiff Ricardo Carrasquillo is a resident of the State of Delaware,

residing at 1961 Prospect Road, Wilmington, DE 19850. Mr. Carrasquillo is the


father of S.C., who attends ASPIRA and is a resident of Christina School District.
Mr. Carrasquillo brings this action on behalf of his child, S.C.
17.

Plaintiff Clissita Patrick is a resident of the State of Delaware,

residing at 411 Terrace Drive, Newark, DE

19711. Ms. Patrick is the legal

guardian of K.B.P., N.P., J.P.H., K.P.H.. and D.S. all of whom attend ASPIRA and
are residents of Christina School District. Ms. Patrick brings this action on behalf
of her children, K.B.P., N.P., J.P.H., K.P.H.. and D.S.
18.

Plaintiff Alexis Simms is a resident of the State of Delaware, residing

at 1970 Prospect Road, Wilmington, DE 19805. Ms. Simms is the mother of M.H.,
L.S. and K.S., all of whom attend EastSide and are residents of Christina School
District. Ms. Simms brings this action on behalf of her children, M.H., L.S. and
K.S.
19.

Plaintiff DaLynne Vick is a resident of the State of Delaware, residing

at 332 Amoroso Way, Newark, DE 19711. Ms. Vick is the mother of E.V. and
I.V., both of whom attend Family Foundations and are residents of Christina
School District. Ms. Vick brings this action on behalf of her children, E.V. and I.V.
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20.

Defendant Christina is a Delaware public school district located in

New Castle County, Delaware. Christina is Delawares largest public school


system, with approximately 22,000 students attending public schools, an estimated
6,300 of whom choose public schools not run by the district charter schools and
regular schools operated by other districts. Christina is subject to suit in this Court
and to service of process at its primary office, located at 600 N. Lombard Street,
Wilmington, DE 19801.
21.

Defendant Robert Silber is, and at all times relevant hereto was, the

Chief Financial Officer of Christina School District and is named in his personal
and official capacity. Mr. Silbers responsibilities include: oversight and direct
supervision of the financial and budgetary functions of Christina School District;
preparing Christina School Districts annual budget; paying all financial
obligations of Christina School District; and monitoring Christina School Districts
budget performance during the fiscal year. On information and belief, Mr. Silber is
a resident of the State of Delaware.
22.

Defendant DOE is an agency of the State of Delaware established by

law and organized for the purpose of overseeing public education in the State of
Delaware. DOE is subject to suit in this Court, and to service of process at its
primary district offices, located at 401 Federal Street, Suite 2, Dover, DE 19901.

23.

Defendant Dr. Steven Godowsky is, and at all times relevant hereto

was, the Secretary of Education for the State of Delaware and is named in his
official capacity only. Dr. Godowsky made the post-September 1, 2016 attempt to
reverse DOEs August 12th certification regarding district requested exclusions.
On information and belief, Dr. Godowsky is a citizen of the State of Delaware.
BACKGROUND
24.

Delawares local school districts receive funding from a variety of

sources, including federal programs, State appropriations and revenues from local
property taxes levied by each district.
25.

Delaware local school districts, including Christina, levy property

taxes, the revenues from which are held for the benefit of all of the districts
students, including those who choose to attend charter schools.
26.

14 Del. C. 509 (Section 509) provides for the sharing, between

each local district and those charter schools attended by their residents, of the local
property tax revenues raised to support operating (as opposed to capital) expenses,
in order that such revenues be shared equally on a per student basis. DOE is
obliged to calculate the local cost per student (Local Cost Per Student ) to
ensure that local property tax revenues equaling the Local Cost Per Student follow
each district child to the charter school of his or her choice. Local Cost Per Student
is calculated according to a formula set forth in Section 509(e) by starting with
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each districts Total Local Operating Expenditure [from the] Preceding Fiscal
Year. Then, in response to submissions from each district proposing to exclude
specific amounts from the Total Local Operating Expenditure, DOE calculates the
Local Cost Per Student.
27.

As a footnote to the matters material to this lawsuit, precisely the

same formula is used, pursuant to 14 Del. C. 408(d), in order to determine the


share of local tax revenues which follow district residents to other public schools
managed by other local districts. In other words, to the extent that a local district
shortchanges its charter school students, it also shortchanges its students who
choose to attend a school managed by another local school district.
28.

From each local districts Total Local Operating Expenditure in the

Preceding Fiscal Year, Section 509(e) permits the exclusion of the following five
categories of local expenditures in calculating each districts Local Cost Per
Student (Exclusions):
i.

ii.
iii.
iv.
v.

Tuition payments made to third party entities for services to


students with needs that cannot be accommodated by that local
district;
Debt service;
Local expenditures for minor capital improvements;
Local cafeteria expenditures; and
any other local expenditures deemed by the Secretary of
Education to be inappropriate for inclusion for the purpose of
this chapter (Category 5 Exclusions).

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29.

School districts propose Exclusions to DOE and DOE then certifies

the final amount of Exclusions to arrive at the Local Cost Per Student.
30.

During the several years prior to FY 17, and because the public

education financial management system was managed by the States Office of


Management and Budget (OMB), the Exclusions proposed by each local district
were reviewed by OMB and forwarded to DOE, which would certify, pursuant
to Section 509(d), each local districts Local Cost Per Student. During those years,
little or no critical review was made of local district proposed Exclusions.
31.

Section 509(d) requires that DOEs certification occur by September

1 of each year. In practice, certifications have been announced in July or August


each year and have not been modified after such certification (even assuming that
such a modification might be permitted). Charter schools are entitled to rely on
each years certification in order to determine their budgets for the coming school
year, which typically begins in mid-August with teachers reporting in order to
prepare for the commencement of the student school year.
32.

While all budgets are subject to a final September 30 student count

under the States system for funding public education, many charter schools refine
their hiring and other expenditure decisions immediately after DOEs Section 509
certification so that they can be ready for the opening of each school year. After
the September 30 unit count, Section 509(b)(2) requires that a true up occur no
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later than December 31. While the number of students might change as a result of
that September 30 count, DOEs certification of the Local Cost Per Student is not
changed by the September 30 count.
33.

Approximately 5,132 students who resided in Christina School

District attended Delaware charter schools during the FY 16 school year. Each
Charter School Plaintiff educates students residing in Christina School District.
CHRISTINAS ABUSE OF THE SYSTEM
34.

Over the past several years, and particularly during the period in

which OMB took primary responsibility for reviewing each local districts
proposed Exclusions, certain categories of Exclusions claimed by Christina have
grown dramatically while its student population has diminished.
35.

For example, for FY 08, Christina excluded just over $18 million,

spread among the five categories of Exclusions permitted under Section 509. 2 By
FY 16, those Exclusions had grown to exceed $49.5 million. Moreover, while the
trend was upward, the year-to-year Exclusions did not grow in a straight line.
36.

Upon information and belief, Christina claimed, and DOE permitted,

Exclusions for ordinary operating expenditures in violation of Section 509, thereby

DOEs records suggest the existence of a 6th category: Reimbursement


Expenditure Deductions. Plaintiffs do not know what funds are excluded in this
category and it is not mentioned in Section 509.
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improperly reducing the operating revenues shared with charter schools educating
Christina children.
37.

The Charter School Plaintiffs, particularly Newark Charter, noted

Christinas irregular funding trend and, on several occasions, questioned DOE and
Christina, asking to see support for the Exclusions from Christinas total operating
expenses. Despite those requests, none has ever been provided.
38.

In early 2016, Christina approached Newark Charter to ask for its

support for a March 2016 funding referendum. To that end, Christina


Superintendent Robert Andrzejewski met with Newark Charter, which offered its
support but asked, once again, for details about Christinas Exclusions from
operating expenses. Despite promises, no such detail was ever provided.
39.

At other times in 2015 and 2016, representatives of Newark Charter

requested detailed information regarding Christinas Exclusions. Defendant Silber


promised such information but failed to deliver on that promise.
40.

Defendant Silber proposed, sought or otherwise orchestrated the

inflated Exclusions, enabling Christina to misappropriate, under his supervision,


funds beneficially belonging to Christinas charter school students (and its students
attending other districts), depriving them of equal funding for their education.

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DOE APPLIES SECTION 509 FOR FY 17


41.

On April 8, 2016, DOEs finance team held a meeting with local

school district business managers to advise them that DOE believed there were
irregularities with the Exclusions claimed over the past several years. At that
meeting, DOE informed the business managers that its scrutiny of the proposed FY
17 Exclusions would be more rigorous than in the past.
42.

On April 25, 2016, DOE officials met with Newark Charter leaders to

discuss the irregularities in Christinas Exclusions. DOE promised to review all


school districts proposed FY 17 Exclusions.
43.

On May 25, 2016, DOE further communicated to local district

business managers about their respective FY 17 Exclusions. DOE directed that


each local district submit its proposed FY 17 Exclusions, along with a justification
for each, to DOE by July 8, 2016.
44.

DOE received the proposed Exclusions from the local districts on or

before July 8, 2016. Christinas submission claimed approximately $48.4 million


in Exclusions; including Category 5 Exclusions which were 46 times higher in FY
16 than FY 08.
45.

DOE adjusted the proposed Exclusions for each local school district

and, on August 8, informed the local district business managers the amount of
approved Exclusions.
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46.

Upon information and belief, Christina, which had proposed over

$48.4 million in FY 17 total Exclusions, failed to register any objection to DOEs


eventual certification of Christina Exclusions of approximately $41.4 million a
$7 million reduction due mainly to a 90% reduction in Christinas Category 5
Exclusions (from $6,676,264.22 to $649,603.00).
47.

On August 12, 2016, the DOE posted its certified Local Cost Per

Student for each local district and sent an e-mail to all Delaware charter schools
drawing their attention to the posted certification (August 12 Certification).
48.

Relying upon the August 12 Certification, several Charter School

Plaintiffs refined their budgets for the FY 17 school year by hiring faculty and
staff, entering into contracts for the services to be provided throughout the
academic year, and purchasing equipment and supplies.
49.

By the September 1, 2016 deadline, DOE had made no adjustments to

the August 12 Certification. Charter School Plaintiffs, some of which had already
opened their doors to students, continued to rely on the August 12 Certification
particularly since September 1 was the statutorily imposed deadline.
OTHER FORCES INTERVENE
50.

At some point after the August 12th Certification, Secretary

Godowsky received calls from a number of Delaware legislators, complaining of


the August 12 Certification and the loss, by Christina, of some of its proposed
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Exclusions. Defendant Silber also complained that Christina wanted to keep more
of the FY 17 local tax revenues.
51.

As a result of external pressure, Secretary Godowsky, in a September

7, 2016 letter addressed simply to Senators and Representatives, purported to


place a hold status on all school district approved exclusions for the 2015 16
(sic - presumably intending to refer to FY 16). Consequently, he concluded we
will not make any changes to district requested exclusions this year.
52.

The Secretarys September 7 letter does not advise when a purported

revised certification, consistent with that letter, would be made. At some point after
the Secretarys September 7 letter, DOE updated its financial online data with
figures apparently derived from Exclusions permitted for FY 16.
53.

Although Christina has consistently refused to provide any

supporting data for its Exclusions, including its Category 5 Exclusions and other
deductions from operating expenses, it is apparent that its proposed FY 17
Exclusions are in violation of Section 509. For example:
Christina apparently claims that it is entitled to exclude expenditures
supported by local tax revenues raised in a 2003 referendum simply because
it identified on the ballot certain programs to be undertaken with those
funds. In other words, Christina alleges that it made a pact with its voters
and that justifies an exclusion for those funds. However, the ballot used for
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that 2003 referendum said nothing of any intention to withhold those


operating revenues from its charter school students. Moreover, Section 509
does not permit any distinction and those expenditures should be included in
the determination of Christinas Local Cost Per Student as they fall within
Christinas Total Local Operating Expenditure the starting point for the
formula set forth in Section 509(e).
Christina apparently claims to exclude expenditures made with what it calls
Match Tax revenues. No statute or regulation supports that assertion and
those expenditures should be included in determining the Local Cost Per
Student as they fall within Christinas Total Local Operating Expenditure
the starting point for the formula set forth in Section 509(e).
COUNT I: Declaratory Relief
Asserted Against DOE and Secretary Godowsky
Pursuant to 10 Del. C. Ch. 65
54.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
55.

10 Del. C. Ch. 65, empowers this Court to declare the right and duties

of the respective parties to this action.


56.

Section 509 requires that DOE annually calculate the Local Cost Per

Student and certify each local districts local cost per student expenditure by
September 1 of each year.
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57.

Between April and June 2016, the DOE met and otherwise

communicated with school district business managers to discuss and review the
Local Cost Per Student funding formula and the proper exclusions listed in Section
509(e).
58.

Christina School District proposed approximately $48.4 million in

total Section 509 Exclusions for FY 17, including $6,676,264.22 in Category 5


Exclusions.
59.

The DOE and Secretary Godowsky reviewed Christina School

proposed Exclusions and correctly rejected over $7 million in requested Exclusions


as inappropriate under Section 509(e).
60.

Of Christinas requested $6,676,264.22 in Category 5 Exclusions, the

August 12 Certification confirmed Category 5 Exclusions of $649,603.00 for FY


17.
61.

Neither the DOE nor Secretary Godowsky modified or revoked the

August 12 Certification before September 1, 2016.


62.

On September 7, 2016, Secretary Godowsky wrote a letter addressed

to Delawares Senators and Representatives in what appears to be an attempt to


revoke the August 12 Certification.

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63.

As of September 22, 2016, the Local Cost Per Student data available

to the Charter School Plaintiffs reflects Christinas proposed FY 17 Exclusions


rather than those correctly confirmed by DOE in its August 12 Certification.
64.

Relying on the August 12 Certification, several Charter School

Plaintiffs have committed to contracts and expenditures for which they may not
have funds if the attempted revocation of the August 12 Certification stands.
65.

An actual, present and justiciable controversy has arisen between

Plaintiffs, on the one hand, and DOE and Secretary Godowsky, on the other,
regarding the Local Cost Per Student certification for FY 17.
COUNT II: Interim Injunctive Relief
Asserted Against Christina, DOE, and Secretary Godowsky
66.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
67.

As a result of Defendant DOEs unlawful attempt to revise its August

12 Certification, Christina is in control of, with authority to spend, local tax


revenue funds that rightfully belong to Charter School Plaintiffs.
68.

There is no statutory mechanism for freezing the expenditures of

funds during a dispute over a districts Local Cost Per Student for a given
academic year.
69.

Without interim injunctive relief, Charter School Plaintiffs face the

threat of immediate and irreparable harm that will occur if Christina spends the
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local tax revenue being wrongfully withheld from them. They have no mechanism
for raising additional revenue to replace those funds in the event Christina spends
or otherwise encumbers such funds.
COUNT III: Equal Protection
Asserted Against All Defendants
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983
70.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
71.

The object of Section 509 is to guarantee that each student who

resides in Christina will benefit equally from funds raised from local Christina
taxpayers for operating expenditures, regardless of whether they choose to attend a
regular Christina school, a charter school or anothers districts school.
72.

Individual Plaintiffs, parents of minor children who reside within

Christinas borders, have been denied equal protection under the law as a result of
the attempted revocation of the August 12 Certification and the resulting unlawful
Exclusions retained by Christina. Because of those Exclusions, Christina children
who attend charter schools will not receive the same level of benefit from local tax
revenues as their peers who remain in regular Christina schools.
73.

There is no rational basis for the unlawful distinctions made by

Defendants in the FY 17 Exclusions purportedly permitted by DOE.

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COUNT IV: Substantive Due Process


Asserted Against DOE and Secretary Godowsky
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983
74.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
75.

No later than September 1, 2016, each Charter School Plaintiff

acquired a vested property interest in funds which should flow as a result of the
August 12 Certification.
76.

The post- September 1 actions taken in order to deprive Charter

School Plaintiffs of their protected property interest, motivated by political


pressure and inconsistent with the provisions of Section 509, were shockingly
arbitrary, capricious, and without legal authority all in violation of the Due
Process guaranteed by the United States Constitutions Fifth Amendment, made
applicable to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.
COUNT V: Procedural Due Process
Asserted Against DOE and Secretary Godowsky
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 1983
77.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
78.

The DOE and Secretary Godowsky took affirmative steps in

certifying the local cost per student in the August 12 Certification.

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79.

The Charter School Plaintiffs had a reasonable expectation that they

would receive the local cost per student funds per the August 12 Certification.
80.

Defendants recklessly and with deliberate indifference deprived

Charter School Plaintiffs of their significant vested property interest in local cost
per student funds that would otherwise have followed from the August 12
Certification.
81.

Many of the Charter School Plaintiffs were given no notice of the

threatened revocation of the August 12 Certification until after DOEs website was
changed sometime after September 7, 2016.
82.

All but a few Charter School Plaintiffs were denied an opportunity to

be heard regarding the threatened deprivation of the significant property rights


which vested on September 1, 2016.
83.

State law provides no process or authority for the revocation or

revision of DOEs August 12 Certification; nor does it provide a process for a


challenge to such revocation or revision.
COUNT VI: Detrimental Reliance
Against DOE
84.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
85.

Most Charter School Plaintiffs began school operations in August,

within days of the August 12 Certification.


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86.

Several Charter School Plaintiffs made spending decisions in reliance

on the August 12 Certification.


87.

Those Charter School Plaintiffs were justified in relying on the

August 12 Certification, in part, because prior to this year, DOE had never
modified or changed a Section 509 certification once it was made.
COUNT VII: Unjust Enrichment
Against Christina School District
88.

Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege the foregoing paragraphs as if fully set

forth herein.
89.

The Exclusions purportedly permitted as a result of DOEs attempt to

revise its August 12 Certification will result in an improper windfall to, and unjust
enrichment of, Christina at Plaintiffs expense.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray for the entry of relief, as follows:
A.

that the Court award interim injunctive relief prohibiting Christina

from spending any of the funds represented by the amount of the challenged FY
17 Exclusions i.e. those not included in the August 12 Certification;
B.

that the Court declare that:


1.

the August 12 Certification is valid and enforceable;

2.

any attempt to revise the August 12 Certification was invalid


a. under Delaware law; and
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b. in violation of Charter School Plaintiffs right to


Due Process, secured by the Fifth Amendment,
made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth
Amendment;
3.

revenues from the local property taxes levied by Christina in


order to pay for Total Local Operating Expenditures are and
were held in trust by Christina and/or DOE for the benefit of all
Christina students, including those attending charter schools;
and

4.

the unlawful Exclusions have the effect of denying Christinas


charter school students equal public support for their education,
in violation of the 14th Amendments Equal Protection Clause.

C.

that the Court direct that Christina and/or DOE account for all FY 08

FY 16 Christina Section 509 Exclusions and direct that Christina restore to


appropriate local fund accounts all amounts improperly withheld as Exclusions
from Total Local Operating Expenditures for those years, together with interest
thereon;
D.

that the Court award compensatory damages against Christina under

42 U.S.C. 1983 for violations of Plaintiffs Constitutional rights;

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E.

that the Court award attorneys fees and litigation expenses, in

accordance with 42 U.S.C. 1988; and


F.

that the Court award Plaintiffs such other and further relief as is just

and equitable.
SAUL EWING LLP
/s/ William E. Manning
William E. Manning, Esq. (#697)
James D. Taylor, Jr., Esq. (#4009)
Allison J. McCowan, Esq. (#5931)
1201 N. Market Street, Suite 2300
Wilmington, DE 19899
wmanning@saul.com
jtaylor@saul.com
amccowan@saul.com
Telephone: (302) 421-6800
Facsimile: (302) 421-5861
Attorneys for Plaintiffs
Dated: October 4, 2016

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