Arguments in a lawsuit that could revive north Scottsdale's now-defunct school district without schools will be heard today and Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.
The suit claims a law that dissolved the Christopher Verde school district, a voter-created district that would have paid to bus 550 students to other areas instead of building its own schools, is unconstitutional because it was tailored to affect only this area and infringed on voting rights.
The case was initiated by Citizens for a Unified School District, a group that originally proposed forming Christopher Verde. Voters in the north East Valley's Troon and Rio Verde areas were required by law to join a school district or form a new one in 2006, which resulted in the creation of Christopher Verde.
But Senate Bill 1164, which was signed into law in July 2007, prevents districts from transporting more than 350 students to another district for classes. This forced the area to join the Cave Creek Unified School District.
Most arguments in the case center on whether SB1164 is meant to affect only the Christopher Verde area.
Don Peters, attorney for the plaintiffs, said his group doesn't believe any of the nine other transportation districts in the state are likely to reach the 350-student threshold anytime soon.
"Our only evidence is going to be whether it's going to affect any other districts," Peters said.
The suit also states SB1164 violates voters' rights because residents in the area had no say on whether to combine the two districts.
Filings on behalf of Maricopa County Superintendent Sandra Dowling and the state, who are named as defendants in the case, argue Troon and Rio Verde voters are being treated the same as voters in any transportation district. The county and state also question the claim that no other district would reach the 350-student threshold.
"We just don't think that the methodology (the plaintiff's expert witness) used to reach his conclusions is the correct one," said Ian Macpherson, attorney for Dowling's office.
Meanwhile, the area that used to be Christopher Verde has been combined with the Cave Creek Unified School District, said Ted Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Maricopa County. "It's all one school district now, therefore the taxes are paid into the Cave Creek school district," Carpenter said. "Unless the lawsuit ends up changing things, we have followed what the statutes require."