Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- A lawsuit filed against the Rochester Public School District (RPS) regarding a technology referendum narrowly failed last year has been thrown out. 

Read More: Lawsuit Challenges Rochester School District Referendum 

The suit was filed last fall by Casey McGregor, who is a member of the Say No to The Taxman Committee that was formed by a group of Rochester citizens in opposition to the school district proposal. 

McGregor previously stated that she brought the lawsuit against the school district as an individual rather than as a representative of the group. The case is now moot since the referendum failed. 

Lawsuit Alleging Misleading Language in RPS Ballot Question Tossed

The lawsuit alleged the wording of last year’s ballot question for the technology referendum was misleading because the majority of the revenue that would be collected from school district property owners if the referendum is approved would be directed to the general fund and only about $3 million would be used for new technology upgrades. 

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RPS Superintendent Kent Pekel stated multiple times during the lead up to last fall’s election that the tax increase would be utilized to shift $7 million in current technology-related expenditures away from the general fund to the new technology levy.

Pekel. Rochester Public Schools
Pekel. Rochester Public Schools

The maneuver would've also allow the district to increase its technology spending by about $3 million per year over the next 10 years. 

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

The 2023 ballot measure failed by 318 votes last November. The lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in Olmsted County Court on Thursday. 

On Friday Pekel issued the following statement: 

We are pleased that the Court issued its order to completely dismiss the complaint Ms. McGregor filed against the District. The District maintained all along that there was no ballot error, and the Court agreed. It is unfortunate that this lawsuit, which received extensive press coverage, may have become a distraction for some voters shortly before an election that resulted in the narrow defeat of an important referendum proposal by 318 votes. In addition, Rochester Public Schools was forced to incur more than $31,000 in funding that could and should have gone to support teaching and learning to defend this case in court.

-RPS Superintendent Kent Pekel

In a response to the ruling McGregor said her lawsuit was, "based on there not being the statutorily required project in the supposed capital project levy." She also claims "There was no such project in the proposal—certainly not in the question on the ballot.

RPS is planning to go to voters for another referendum later this year. Pekel says he and district staff are working on the framework of the proposal. 

Last month the RPS Board used a new state law to extend a property tax levy approved by voters in 2015 for another 10 years.

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