Chief Judge Yvette Kane of the U.S. District Court of the Middle District has ruled it was wrong for Lebanon School District parents to be overcharged for truancy fines, but she has not decided whether those parents should get their money back.
The Lebanon School District makes you pay a fine for truancy, but some parents say the price is too high. They claimed they collectively overpaid by $180,000.
"I just think that was unjust, really un-American to overcharge people like that," said Stanley Lawson Sr., executive board member for the Pennsylvania NAACP. "In the first place, these aren't real wealthy people and it just seems to me, unjust."
While Kane ruled that the parents did overpay, she has yet to make a ruling on restitution.
Lawson graded the judge's decision.
"We're talking about the school district. They give you a grade - A, B, C - but you can also get an incomplete. This is an incomplete," he said.
Lawson hoped that Kane will soon complete her ruling and order the school district to pay back all of the money he says the parents deserve. Otherwise, he says it is a rotten deal.
"Bought rotten eggs and paid for them, then took them back and they say, 'yeah this is wrong. Refund your money,'" Lawson said. "In this situation here, they're saying 'okay, you got some rotten eggs, but we're not gonna give you your money back.'"
abc27 received the following statement about the ruling on behalf of the Lebanon School District from its lawyers:
"Late yesterday afternoon, Chief Judge Kane of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued her decision on motions for summary judgment filed by the Lebanon School District and counsel for the plaintiffs in this civil case.
In its motion, the District claimed that there is no evidence that it collaborated with the magisterial district courts with regard to the imposition of and/or the reduction of truancy fines as plaintiffs alleged. The plaintiffs' motion claimed that the District should be required to repay truancy fines under state law fairness doctrines.
The judge denied the District's motion, finding that a trial is needed to decide factual disputes over what role, if any, the District had with regard to the reduction of unpaid truancy fines. The opinion does not establish any wrongdoing by the District. Trial is set to begin on December 3. The District's position is that there is no merit to the plaintiffs' claim.
The judge granted the plaintiffs' motion in part. First, the judge decided not to address whether the District is entitled to receive fines from the courts if the fines imposed are greater than those allowed by law. Second, the judge decided that, even if the District was unaware that the courts were imposing fines that were too large, it was unjustly enriched by receiving those fines.
The judge did not enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. Rather, the order expressly directs the Clerk of Courts to defer entry of judgment until all claims have been adjudicated."