Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Pasco News

Administrative judge sides with Pasco County school district in west-side rezoning challenge

Parents' claims that the Pasco County School Board acted inappropriately in setting new attendance zones for west-side middle and high schools did not persuade an administrative law judge, who on Thursday denied the families' petition challenging the action.

Judge D.R. Alexander, who heard two days of testimony, agreed with the parents that the board is subject to state law on rule making when it comes to creating school zones. But he did not find that the district failed to adhere to those laws.

"The steps taken by the School Board during the rezoning process substantially comply with all procedural requirements," Alexander wrote. "Absent a showing of prejudice by Petitioners, the rule is not invalid."

He rejected the complaints that the district did not provide appropriate formal notice of its meetings, for instance, noting that the parents were well aware of the rezoning process from early on. West side residents began circulating information to fight rezoning in late August, and began speaking out in early September.

Several sent emails to the school district expressing their opinions.

"It is fair to conclude from the evidence that Petitioners and Intervenors had actual notice of the committee and parent meetings, as most attended or watched the committee meetings by live streaming, they provided comments at the parent meeting, or they voluntarily chose not to attend," Alexander wrote. "Thus, a failure to properly notice rule development was harmless error where Petitioners had actual notice of the process."

He also turned aside the families' contentions that the board's rule was vague and lacking in standards for reaching a conclusion. And he did not accept the argument that the outcome, which has the plaintiffs' children reassigned to different schools, was arbitrary.

"The School Board's proposed rule was the product of thoughtful consideration by the committee and Superintendent during an extensive rulemaking development process," Alexander wrote. "There is no credible evidence that the proposed rule is capricious or that it was taken without thought or reason or irrationally."

Read the full order for more details.

Jim Stanley, one of the plaintiffs, said he did not want to comment to avoid jeopardizing any future action. The group's lawyer, Robert Stines, was not immediately available for comment.

School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso said he was pleased with the outcome, but noted that Alexander has yet to issue a ruling on the challenge to east-side rezoning and a circuit court case on the matter still remains.

"I don't think this case is quite over yet," Alfonso said.

The School Board decided to redraw attendance zones for 2017-18 as a way to ease crowding in some schools, primarily Mitchell High and Seven Springs Middle, and to fill seats at under-used campuses such as Anclote High and Paul R. Smith Middle.

In the months leading to the board vote, an advisory committee struggled through several meetings to come up with a recommendation that kept most residents happy. In the end, and by a narrow margin, it proposed a map that would rezone a handful of communities, primarily the Longleaf subdivision from which the challenge arose.

Board members heard comment from residents at several public sessions before holding two formal hearings on the proposals, which superintendent Kurt Browning modified slightly. The board is implementing the new zones to take effect in the fall.

Comments
You thought you knew these candidates? In House District 38, it's Tent Killer challenging Little Danny

You thought you knew these candidates? In House District 38, it's Tent Killer challenging Little Danny

Most everybody knew John David Hayes simply as “David’’ until 1982. The then-21-year-old skydiving enthusiast, however, made a bad landing on his 11th jump in Alberta, Canada, and soon everyone started calling him something else. "...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Citrus County crash kills two, including Port Richey motorcyclist

Citrus County crash kills two, including Port Richey motorcyclist

A Port Richey motorcyclist and pedestrian from Citrus County were killed Monday morning in a crash on U.S. 19 in Homosassa.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 50-year-old Donald Glenn Moore was riding northbound on U.S. 19, near South Suffolk Te...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Deputy's wife texted 'Kirk has lost his mind' before murder-suicide, friend says

Deputy's wife texted 'Kirk has lost his mind' before murder-suicide, friend says

LAND O’LAKES — Samantha Keithley sent a series of disturbing text messages late Sunday, complaining about her husband to a longtime friend.“Kirk has lost his mind Kristin,” she wrote in one text to friend Kristin Kellin. &...
Published: 09/24/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for Sept. 28

Re: Epilogue: Robert Judson Jr., a pioneer in Pasco-Hernando education (9-19-18)I had the pleasure of working with the late Dr. Robert Judson, the former president of what is now Pasco-Hernando State College, for many years. During my tenure as a Flo...
Published: 09/24/18

Tickets on sale for Richey Community Orchesta season

Music is in the offing as tickets go on sale Oct. 1 for the 2018-2019 season of the Richey Community Orchestra. The non-profit orchestra, under the direction of Stephen P. Brown, features a multi-generational group of 50 professional and amateur musi...
Published: 09/24/18
New theater and conservatory opening broadens local offerings

New theater and conservatory opening broadens local offerings

By Barbara L. FredricksenTimes CorrespondentAt the age of 75, Vince Vanni seems to have finally found his bliss.Area theater-goers know Vanni from his many performances at Stage West Community Playhouse, Show Palace Dinner Theatre and with Live Oak T...
Published: 09/24/18
Pasco deputies identify body of man found in wooded Wesley Chapel campsite

Pasco deputies identify body of man found in wooded Wesley Chapel campsite

WESLEY CHAPEL — The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has identified a body discovered Saturday in a wooded area as a 60-year-old Hillsborough County man.Two people flagged down a deputy Saturday to report a decomposing body in the woods north of Beardsl...
Published: 09/24/18
Hudson Middle students shine in annual young authors event

Hudson Middle students shine in annual young authors event

NEW PORT RICHEY — James McFadden wrote a time-travel adventure story called, Escaping Time. Junaye Brown penned a twist on a classic fairy tale, called The Four Little Bears. Zoie Castleberry called on her own experience with a beloved pet to ...
Published: 09/24/18

Pasco Events starting Sept. 28

28 FridayDiscussion with a Doctor — Diabetes: Presented by Florida Family Primary Care Center. Learn how diabetes education is an important part of helping people reduce their risk for complications and improve quality of life. Spanish interpr...
Published: 09/24/18

Things to Do in Pasco and Hernando counties starting Sept. 28

FestivalsHispanic Heritage Festival: The second annual event will be from 2 to 10 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Lake House, 1202 Kenlake Ave., Spring Hill. Gates open at 1:30 p.m. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by experiencing the culture with live music...
Published: 09/24/18