The Minnesota Court of Appeals has quashed on a technicality an appeal by the Minneapolis school district in a dispute involving $960,000 in charter school rent, ruling that the district's appeal of that action was too late. 

The dispute involves lease aid, money that the state Department of Education pays on behalf of charter schools to rent buildings. The state says it doesn't have to pay districts if they're both the authorizer and the landlord for a charter school, because of a law designed to prevent conflicts of interest.

The district appealed that action, but the timeliness of that action depended on when the department gave its final negative response to the district.  The department said it said no on May 31, but the district argued that it didn't get confirmation of a firm decision until Sept. 5.  The court said the final no came on July 18 in a decision the district released on Tuesday. That meant the district's Oct. 11 appeal came after the 60-day appeal window had closed, three appeals court judges ruled.

Steve Liss, the district's general counsel expressed furstration over the ruling on a technicality, which he said combined with earlier rulings creates uncertainty over what constitutes a final agency decision for appeals purposes.

The district is likely to ask for a discretionary review of the decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and to ask the Legislature to clarify the law to permit such lease payments, Liss said.