Anti-redistricting group focuses on injunction, elections

Parents opposed to redistricting in Union County hit another roadblock last week after a judge postponed a hearing in relation to the lawsuit filed by Citizens for Adequate Public School, or CAPS, against Union County Public Schools.

Deposition for the trial will take place next week, from Monday, April 14, to Wednesday, April 16, with a tentative date for a temporary injunction hearing in late April or early May. CAPS hopes to see an injunction put in place for the upcoming school year to give the two parties time to work through the lawsuit before moving forward with redistricting.

“I would hope that would stop it for next year and we could go to court and demand that these impact studies be done,” Kim Hillegas, the lead plaintiff for CAPS, said.

Parents and residents in Union County who were opposed to the recently approved UCPS redistricting plan moved forward with a lawsuit in March. The redistricting will shift about 3,200 to 5,600 students to new schools, depending on how many students opt to be grandfathered into their current school. Any students choosing to stay at their current school will not be provided transportation by the school system and has to find their own way to get to campus.

CAPS organizers argue the school system did not complete the proper studies, such as traffic impact, to see the affect the changes would have on the safety and wellbeing of students. Many students who are being redistricted are being moved to schools further away from their homes, increasing time on the road, Hillegas said. Parents worry increased time in the car will increase chances of students being in wrecks.

UCPS Board of Education Facilities Chairman Kevin Stewart has argued redistricting is necessary to increase student safety in situations where a natural disaster may hit the area. If a tornado warning were announced, the schools are required to have adequate space for all students to be in brick and mortar buildings and not in the mobile units many western Union County students currently attend class in.

“That’s a danger in some sense but it doesn’t even compare to the danger to putting kids on the road (for longer distances),” Hillegas argued in regard to the board’s safety concerns.

But if CAPS doesn’t see a temporary injunction in the near future, Hillegas said the group’s efforts will be redirected to elections, which will take place on Nov. 4, to replace the four members up for re-election – chairman and District 3 representative Richard Yercheck, District 4 representative Richard Pigg, District 6 representative Marce Savage and at-large representative Sherry Hodges. Filing for school board opens June 27 at noon and will continue through July 25 at noon. Hodges is currently filed as a candidate for the Union County Board of Commissioners, which has a primary scheduled for May 6 where all candidates will be on the ballot, as they are all running on the Republican ticket.

“At that point (if there is no injunction), a lot of our attention may turn toward elections, and turn toward discussions with the new board members this fall,” Hillegas said. “We want to get people in there who really care about what’s best for our children and the community.”

Find more information about CAPS and its efforts in Union County at www.
citizensforadequatepublicschools.org.

 

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