Supreme Court Sides With JCPS in Tax Case

Upholds lower court ruling invalidating recall petition effort

In a unanimous decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that opponents of a property tax increase for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) failed to obtain enough valid signatures on a petition to place the issue on the November 2020 ballot. The ruling upholds an earlier decision by Jefferson Circuit Court judge Brian Edwards. 

The high court’s decision means JCPS will have millions of dollars more per year to invest in its Future State plan which includes new schools, more instructional time, and support for teachers and students in underserved schools. The district will also have increased bonding capacity to fund capital improvements.

“We are pleased with the Kentucky Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Judge Edwards’ ruling that the petition did not contain sufficient signatures as required by law,“ said Dr. Marty Pollio, superintendent of JCPS. “We can now take giant steps forward with our vision of a Future State for Jefferson County Public Schools. This is a win for the children of Jefferson County.”

In 2020, the Jefferson County Board of Education approved a seven cent increase in the property tax rate for local schools. Opponents gathered signatures to place the measure on the November ballot. But a review of the petition by the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA) found duplicate names, erroneous addresses and birthdates and missing information totaling in the thousands, prompting a lawsuit by the school board and JCTA to invalidate the recall measure.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the education groups, finding the tax opponents’ collection of electronic signatures included no security measures and was enough to invalidate the recall petition effort. The justices also rejected the notion that the school board had not provided proper public notice about its plans for the property tax rate increase.   

JCPS has collected two years worth of property taxes at the higher rate, placing nearly $75 million in escrow until the court’s final ruling.