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School For The Blind Supporters Trying New Legal Tactic

Opponents of the decision to close the Oregon School for the Blind are trying another legal tactic to keep the state from shutting down the Salem property. Rob Manning explains.

Attorney Tyler Smith is already suing to ensure suitable services for students who used to attend the School for the Blind.

Now, Smith is also suing the state of Oregon over the property itself.

Smith argues that the state doesn’t own one-fifth of the property, and can’t sell it.

In 1881, former Portland mayor Henry Failing, donated land to establish a school. The deed discusses a charitable trust - not the state - as the land's authority, if the school closes.

Only problem is, no trust exists. Smith says in that event, the deed calls on the state Supreme Court.

Smith says the court could name as trustees the school for the blind's board members. They oppose closure.

Tyler Smith: “Or, the other outcome, it could say ‘no, there’s no charitable trust, so the Supreme Court has to appoint a similar charity to fulfill the intent of the donors’.”

Smith represents students at the School for the Blind, board members, and Henry Failing’s heirs.

State officials say they don’t comment on pending litigation. 

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