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District 303: ‘Configurations and programs’ won’t change after ruling

ST. CHARLES – In light of a hearing Wednesday on the Richmond-Davis schools litigation, St. Charles School District 303 officials Friday released an update stating that the “configurations and programs” at the schools will remain in place.

“... The Kane County Circuit Court affirmed that the decision to reconfigure Davis and Richmond was completely within the legal rights and authority of the District 303 Board of Education,” states a letter signed by board President Steven Spurling and Vice President Kathleen Hewell. “This means that the configurations and programs at Davis and Richmond will remain in place, but that the district must also ensure that the procedural requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation are satisfied.”

The letter goes on to say that district officials expect the court to clarify specific steps they need to take and that the district intends to fully comply.

“This will likely include increased parental participation in school planning, which is something we embrace,” states the release. “We will also comply with the court’s directive to provide additional support to underperforming students.”

Judge David Akemann issued a ruling earlier this month on the case, which challenged the legality of reconfiguring Davis and Richmond elementary schools into schools serving grades K-2 and 3-5, respectively. Parents, who filed the lawsuit in 2011, alleged the district circumvented No Child Left Behind regulations when it did so.

Akemann ruled in favor of the parents. He ordered the district to take corrective action in developing a revised School Improvement Plan and Corrective Action Plan for Davis and Richmond within six months.

“When the district says the reconfiguration was legal, they’re making a broad generalization,” said Timothy Dwyer, the attorney for the parents. “The court on Wednesday said in terms of boundaries, the district has the general powers to create its own local attendance boundaries. That was just part of the lawsuit.”

The district’s letter also states the attorney for the original plaintiffs – Dwyer – is “threatening to file appeals and/or new lawsuits against District 303” unless the district agrees to pay the attorney’s fees and costs, which are in the six-figures. The board has rejected the demand, according to the letter.

Dwyer said he didn’t know the grounds for that statement, as he has not indicated that he plans any further action.

“They probably know that the court’s order opens up a wealth of potential liability for them,” he said.

As the case moves forward, Dwyer said he hopes board members stay true to their word about increasing parent involvement.

“If anything good comes out of this ... hopefully they’ll involve the parents and get their opinions and input instead of just saying, ‘Here’s our plan, we’re going to approve it a few weeks,’ ” Dwyer said.

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