does not have power to make provision for free education of an adult student whose parent is employed in the District of Columbia. If the power is recognized and the intention of Congress is clear, the Court must not speculate on what Congress likely would have done.
It is an elementary rule of judicial construction, where words of a Statute are susceptible of different meanings, that the intention of the Legislature must govern. This leads us to consider what the intention of Congress was. In arriving at this intention, the Court should take into consideration the knowledge of the legislators, and in light of such knowledge, what action they took or failed to take. It must be assumed they knew the word "pupils" sometimes was used when referring to children and youths under instruction, and at other times was used in a broader sense, so as to include those of any age who were under instruction. By the Act of 1915 they permitted non-resident "pupils" to be admitted to normal schools.Conceivably these pupils might be adults before graduation; it was possible they might be adults even before admission. Notwithstanding this, no limitation was placed on the definition of the word "pupils".
In 1929 when Congress permitted the extension of the normal schools to a four-year college course, with right to furnish degrees, the legislators knew that in such a college, not only might the student be an adult, but that in most instances he would be. (One usually enters kindergarten at five years of age, attends a year, then pursues a year each in six other grades of elementary school, two grades of Junior High School, four grades of Senior High School, four years of normal school or College, making him twenty-one years of age on entering his graduation year.) The legislators further knew that in instances where students had been retained in any grade for more than a year, they would become adults at an earlier stage in normal school or College. Knowing full well adults would be admitted, Congress made no provision for them to pay when non-residents and when their parents were employed in the District of Columbia. It also is fair to assume that in late years, after the creation of Wilson Teachers College, the Legislators knew that the School Board in fact was admitting non-resident adults to the College, which, as heretofore pointed out, might only be done by virtue of a statute permitting non-resident "pupils" to be admitted. If this interpretation of the admission of "pupils" had been contrary to the wishes of Congress, the Legislators would be challenged to make it clear that the word "pupils" should be limited to those under the age of majority. Yet no such action was taken, despite a situation existing over a number of years. Under these circumstances, it seems fair to conclude that Congress intended no such limitation.
It is anomalous in this case that the defendant contends (as he must, in view of his practice of admitting non-resident adult students to the College) that adult students may be so admitted by virtue of an Act of Congress which provides non-resident "pupils" may be admitted; and at the same time contends that when Congress exempts non-resident "pupils" from pay, the exemption does not apply to adults. He admits Congress refers to adults when it provides for entrance of non-resident "pupils", but denies Congress refers to adults when it provides free tuition for non-resident "pupils". Congress has indicated no such distinction between its uses of the same word and this Court cannot accept such conflicts of interpretation.
It is my opinion that Congress intended that non-residents, whether adults or minors, under certain conditions might be admitted to any public school in the District of Columbia, graduate or undergraduate, and that when their parents are employed in the District of Columbia, no tuition shall be charged for them, whether adults or minors.
There seems to be no foundation for the remaining contention of the defendant that the Board of Education in its discretion may impose a charge upon a non-resident student at Wilson Teachers College. In the first place, there is no showing in this case that the Board of Education exercised such discretion, the only showing being that the Superintendent of Schools wrote a letter that unless tuition was paid the student would be discharged. In the second place, Congress at no time gave the Board of Education power to determine when there should be and when there should not be charges made for non-residents. The history of all of the legislation with respect to the public schools shows that Congress has assumed to deal with this subject specifically and in mandatory language. Thus in this matter, the Board of Education has no right to exercise discretion by reason of a Statute which permits it simply "to fix terms for the admission and graduation of pupils" in the normal schools.
Defendant's motion to dismiss will be overruled.
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