EXTRA CONTENT: Corbin School Board officially files lawsuit against Education Commissioner, Knox Board
The Corbin school board is continuing the fight with Knox County schools over its decision to end the student reciprocal agreement, filing a lawsuit Monday in Franklin Circuit Court to have the agreement re-instituted beyond the 2010-11 school year with the provision that the state funding follow each student to the district where he or she attends school.
In the suit, the board’s attorney, Robert Chenoweth argued that the Kentucky Board of Education’s decision to uphold Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday’s ruling to extend the reciprocal agreement through the 2010-11 school year is unconstitutional because while students already enrolled may continue to attend school in the other district, the district will loose Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding that has previously followed the student.
Chenoweth argued the board’s decision will have an adverse impact on the programs, facilities, transportation and staffing for the Corbin school district.
In recommending that the Knox County school board not renew the agreement, Superintendent Walter T. Hulett said the 405 Knox County students attending Corbin Independent Schools results in Knox County losing approximately $1.3 million in SEEK funding. As a result, the board was forced make budget cuts including laying off approximately 15 classified and 30 certified staff members.
At the same time, the Knox County Board of Education elected to continue similar agreements with Barbourville Independent, Whitley County, Clay County, Middlesboro, Pineville and Williamsburg school district.
"Those agreements are revenue neutral, Hulett said previously, noting while Knox County has 32 students who live in the Corbin school district compared to the 405 Knox County students attending Corbin, the number of reciprocal students from the other districts are about equal.
Chenoweth went to on to say the state board erred when it upheld Holliday’s decision.
Under Kentucky law, Knox County schools have 20 days to file a response. The judge will review the documents and may elect to hear oral arguments from the parties.
The law permits either party to appeal the decision to the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
Both Holliday and the Kentucky Board of Education has included in their rulings a recommendation that the two side attempt to reach an agreement, either through negotiations or mediation.
Corbin Independent Schools Superintendent Ed McNeel said previously there must be some common ground on which to begin negotiations.
"We want parent choice, Corbin School Board Member Kim Croley said following a special called meeting in April during which the board met with Chenoweth to discuss it’s legal options. "You should be able to send your child to the school you want them to go to."
Hulett said previously that there was no need for as Knox County officials have been satisfied with the decisions of Holiday and the board. Tuesday, he indicated that position had changed.
"We are willing to work with the court to bring this to a resolution," Hulett said, confirming that Knox County schools officials had been served with the lawsuit and their attorney is preparing a response.