Meet Our Speakers

Alan Rupe

Alan L. Rupe is a partner in the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, and is Vice-Chair of the firm’s Employment and Labor Practice Group. He is Managing Partner of the Wichita and Kansas City offices. Mr. Rupe receives ongoing national attention and recognition for his successful prosecution of cases relating to the constitutionality of the funding of K-12 public education. In June 2014, Mr. Rupe and his co-counsel John Robb received the Demetrio Rodriguez Champion of Educational Justice Award, awarded by the Educational Law Center, Newark, New Jersey for "years of outstanding lawyering and lobbying and perseverance in the face of many obstacles, including brash insults" for his work on the Kansas school funding lawsuits. Mr. Rupe, along with attorney John Robb of Somers, Robb & Robb, and Jessica Skladzien of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, represent four Kansas school districts in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the State’s school funding scheme on the basis of adequacy (the amount of overall money spent) and equity (how those funds are distributed). The Kansas City, Kansas, Wichita, Dodge City, and Hutchinson school districts are part of a larger organization, Schools for Fair Funding, which advocates for adequacy and equity in Kansas school funding. The organization has more than 35 school district members. The Gannon v. State of Kansas lawsuit was first filed in November of 2010. The case was tried before a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka, Kansas. The 16-day trial stretched over a period of four weeks, with testimony of 44 witnesses testified and 662 exhibits introduced into evidence. Ultimately, the Panel found the 2010 school finance system to be both inadequate and inequitable and declared Kansas school funding to be unconstitutional. Since that ruling, the Plaintiffs have secured several findings that the school finance law that existed in 2010 was unconstitutional. In March of 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed the Panel’s finding that the then-existing law did not meet the equity component of the Kansas Constitution. The Court then instructed the Legislature to fix the law, with remedial oversight by the Panel. The Legislature purported to do by adopting legislation on April 6, 2016. The new legislation again fell short of constitutionality. On May 27, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court gave the State one last chance to adopt a constitutional formula before July 1, 2016. Ultimately, following a special session of the Kansas Legislature, Governor Sam Brownback signed Sub for HB 2001, which addressed the equity concerns. The Gannon Plaintiffs and the State of Kansas filed a Joint Stipulation of Constitutionality Equitable Compliance in which the parties agreed that Sub for HB 2001 met the equity requirements of the Kansas Constitution. The Court then addressed the issue of adequacy (the larger portion of the appeal asking whether there is enough total money in the system), and on September 21, 2016, heard oral argument. A ruling is expected in early 2017. In addition to school finance litigation, Mr. Rupe frequently defends both governmental and non-governmental employers on issues involving First Amendment, due process, excessive force violations, and other civil rights claims. Mr. Rupe earned a B.A., with honors, from the University of Kansas, and graduated from Washburn University School of Law. He is admitted to practice in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, the United States Courts of Appeal (Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Tenth Circuits), and regularly appears pro hac vice in state and federal courts across the country. Rupe's mother taught first grade at Hawthorne Elementary School in Salina, Kansas for over 30 years.

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