Austin, TX- MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) is asking a state court to issue an emergency order to stop Texas education officials from continuing to illegally bypass existing rules involving school funding.

The request for the temporary restraining order filed Wednesday seeks to block the Texas Education Agency from continuing to allow some property-wealthy school districts to reduce their contribution to the school funding formula known as “recapture,” which requires wealthier districts to help fund poorer districts.

The recapture formula allows districts to apply two types of tax deductions to residents. The first is a mandated $25,000 homestead exemption. The second deduction allows districts the option of granting an additional homeowner’s exemption of up to 20 percent of a home’s value, known as a local optional homestead exemption (“LOHE”). The exemptions reduce the funding available to poorer districts unless the state or wealthy districts backfill the reduction.

In March, MALDEF sued the state on behalf of La Feria Independent School District in Cameron County and the Joaquin Independent School District in Shelby County seeking to require the state to follow the rules that limit when an optional homestead exemption can be applied.

While the lawsuit is pending, MALDEF is asking the court to temporarily prevent the Texas Education Agency from allowing districts to grant the optional homestead exemption unless there is either a budget surplus or an appropriation by state lawmakers to make up for the lost funding. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 3:15 p.m. CDT in Travis County District Court.

Read the request here.