Lawsuit heard against Union County Board of Education - myfoxcarolinas.com

Lawsuit heard against Union County Board of Education

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Union County, NC - Union County Judge Tonya Wallace heard from a group of citizens filing a lawsuit against Union County Public Schools and the Board of Education in an effort to stop redistricting, this afternoon.

The redistricting plan will shift anywhere from 3,000 to 5,800 students.

Today's hearing resulted in two decisions. The first, was to deny a request for a temporary restraining order made by the group filing the lawsuit against the Board of Education. The judge said there was no "irreparable harm" present, which would qualify for a T.R.O.

The second result was moving a request for Expedited Discovery to Friday morning at 10 a.m. Expedited Discovery would force the Board of Education to respond to a vast, wide-range of requests from those filing the lawsuit -- including responses to emails that request specific information on how the redistricting plan was arrived at. 

"Since Jan. 15, I believe we've had 68 requests for public records dealing with redistricting alone," attorney representing UCPS' Board of Education Richard Schwartz said. "The school system has a very lean administrative staff and it's very time consuming. Many of these requests are very detailed asking for large numbers of records...it's an enormous and time-consuming task.

"We've fully responded to 34 of 68 requests through last Friday morning and we've got others in the pipeline. The school system is doing a remarkable job I think in terms of responding in a timely manner."

Kim Hillegas is the first plaintiff of 15 listed on the lawsuit. She says her requests for answers, at least six, have not been met.

"And I've gotten confirmation that they've received them," Hillegas said. "One of them mainly was the safety reports. I've requested that many times...I've asked about the bus numbers, about the costs -- I've asked about some ethics concerns and some disclosure on those issues....there have been several very clear, very concise, very limited even where it's very easy to respond, requests."

Attorneys representing those filing the lawsuit (Citizens for Adequate Public Schools) allege that the Board of Education was in violation of the Open Meetings Law by "reaching a secret and coordinated agreement related to the school redistricting plan behind closed doors."

Several members of the Board of Education appeared to be reading from scripts, they say, during the meeting at Porter Ridge High on March 4, when the redistricting plan was passed.

The Board of Education's attorney denies any violation of a majority conspiring behind closed doors.

"It simply didn't happen," Schwartz said. "The complaint is built on speculation and supposition and with all due respect, it's simply wrong."

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