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Case of the Month
December 2007

Case Overview

Edward D. Sloan, Jr. v. Inez Moore Tenenbaum,

Superintendent of Education

Appellant Edward D. Sloan (Sloan) brought a declaratory judgment action asking the circuit court to direct the respondent, Inez Tenenbaum (Tenenbaum), who was, at that time, serving as Superintendent of the State Department of Education, to produce a report required by S.C. Code Ann. § 59-3-60 (2004) (now repealed) .[1]

Ms. Tenenbaum filed a motion to dismiss and argued that her predecessor, Barbara Nielsen, had discontinued the issuance of the report around 1993.  Ms. Tenenbaum claimed the report had been discontinued because the State Budget and Control Board ceased funding the publication, much of the information was obsolete, and the remainder of the information was published elsewhere by the Department of Education.  Ms. Tenenbaum also argued that Mr. Sloan lacked standing to bring the action.  The circuit court denied Ms. Tenenbaum’s motion to dismiss the complaint.

After § 59-3-60 was repealed by passage of Act 195 of 2004, 2004 S.C. Acts 1898 (Act 195),[2] Ms. Tenenbaum argued Mr. Sloan’s action requesting compliance with the statute was moot.  Mr. Sloan then filed a supplemental complaint, alleging Act 195 violated Article III, § 17 of the South Carolina Constitution.

The circuit court held a non-jury trial and found Act 195 to be constitutional.  The court noted Mr. Sloan conceded that if Act 195 was determined to be constitutional, then his original claim was moot.  Regardless, the court stated that even if Act 195 was unconstitutional, Ms. Tenenbaum could comply with § 59-3-60 by providing an index “to the title and/or location of the Department publication or database containing the information specified in § 59-3-60 that is not otherwise obsolete.”

Mr. Sloan has now filed an appeal in which he argues he has standing, as a citizen, resident and taxpayer of the state, to bring an action against a state official for violating a statutory duty, that Act 195 violated Art. III, § 17 of the South Carolina Constitution, which requires that state statutes relate to one subject and that the subject be expressed in the title, and that if Act 195 is unconstitutional, he is entitled to injunctive relief compelling compliance with § 59-3-60.  The Supreme Court will consider these arguments on Wednesday, December 5, 2007


[1]  Section 59-3-60 required an annual report to the General Assembly showing:

(1) The whole number of pupils registered and the number enrolled as defined in § 59-63-450 in the free common schools of this State during the year ending the thirtieth day of the last preceding June and the number in each county registered and the number enrolled as defined in said section during the same period;
 
(2) The number of whites and the number of colored, of each sex, attending the schools;
 
(3) The number of free schools in the State;
(4) The number of pupils studying each of the branches taught;
(5) The average wages paid to teachers of each sex, and to the principals of schools and departments in the schools;
(6) The number of schoolhouses erected during the year and the location, material and cost thereof;
(7)    The number previously erected, the material of their construction, their condition and value and the number with the grounds enclosed;
(8) The counties in which teachers’ institutes were held, and the number attending the institutes in each county; and
(9) Such other statistical information as he may deem important, together with such plans as he may have matured and the State Board of Education may have recommended for the management and improvement of the school fund and for the more perfect organization and efficiency of the free public schools.

All State institutions of higher learning shall make an annual report on or before the first day of September of each year to the State Superintendent of Education, embracing a detailed account of the operations of such institutions, including the expenditure of public moneys for the current scholastic year.  The State Superintendent of Education shall include such reports in his annual report to the General Assembly.

[2]  Act 195 amended S.C. Code Ann. § 59-25-115, which concerned criminal background checks for student teachers, and repealed S.C. Code Ann. §§ 59-3-50, 59-3-60, and 59-3-70, which related to statistical reports to be issued by the Department of Education.

 


Case Briefs

Final Brief of Petitioner   Final Brief of Respondent

 


Oral Arguments

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