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Holding School Districts Accountable for Spending

Friedman v. Cave Creek Unified School District

Case Status

Date Filed

April 5, 2011

Last Step

VICTORY – Court of Appeals upholds trial court decision in favor of taxpayers.

Next Step

Case Closed: The Arizona Supreme Court declined review; the Court of Appeals and trial court victories stand.

Case Overview

In a November 2000 special election, voters of the Cave Creek Unified School District approved a $41.6 million bond program for the primary purpose of constructing new schools. The initial bond revenues were used to build Sonoran Trails Elementary School and funded more than half of the construction at Horseshoe Trails Elementary School.

The district had $13 million remaining. Instead of paying off the bonds, the Cave Creek Unified School District used bond money on projects voters hadn’t approved, violating the contract they had made with voters. Instead of holding the district accountable, the Arizona Legislature passed a special law that allowed some school districts to divert funds from voter-approved projects.

The Goldwater Institute is representing Cave Creek residents Jayne Friedman (pictured) and Richard Bail, to stop the district from using bond funding in ways not approved by the voters.

If successful, this lawsuit will enhance constitutional protection for contracts, a principle that the school district and legislature violated when they failed to honor the district’s contract with voters. Moreover, the legislature exceeded its power by enacting a law that doesn’t apply to all citizens equally.

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