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Jefferson School District wants out of lawsuit

Budget shortfalls have led to schools charging student fees for some classes, clubs, and sports.

Earlier this week, we reported on a lawsuit against all Idaho school districts for these very fees.

Jefferson School District administrators said there are no mandatory fees in their schools. They said their students don’t pay a cent for the basic education required by the state.

“We feel it’s important to do all we can to observe the state statute,” said Ron Tolman, Jefferson Schools Superintendent.

Tolman said students in the Jefferson School District don’t have to pay anything for the basic education and they haven’t done so for the last eight years.

“The kinds of fees where you have to pay a blanket fee just to come to school, we don’t have any of those,” said Tolman.

Students can take any class they want, free of charge. But if they want to play sports, have a school locker or get a parking pass, they have to pay. But those things aren’t part of the basic education.

“It’s not necessary that they have a locker to come to school. They don’t have to drive their car to school,” said Tolman. “Those can be voluntary fees that they choose to use or not use.”

But is this what Steve Joki, the former Idaho Schools Superintendent, who’s behind the lawsuit had in mind? He said he just doesn’t want students to feel limited academically or have to pay to register at a public school.

“These fees are direct. In some cases, they’re indirect. An indirect fee, in our opinion, would be those kinds of fees we’re talking about; a locker fee or even a hidden fee in school supply lists,” said Joki.

Tolman said thanks to donations and money management, his district avoids charging those fees.

“We just use our general operating and maintenance funds to do as much as we can and then the schools supplement by voluntary donations,” said Tolman.

So far, the school districts and the state legislature have not responded to the lawsuit.

Joki said they’ll most likely respond after the November 6th elections.

Again, the lawsuit asks for a $2.5 million reimbursement for all student fees collected from this school year.

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