Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Pasco superintendent aims to avoid negative impacts of court’s rezoning decision

West Pasco County middle and high school students who moved schools this year after the School Board redrew attendance zones will not have to move back after a judge threw out the changes, superintendent Kurt Browning announced Thursday.

"I am very, very concerned about the impact this ruling has" toward maintaining "calm continuity," Browning said in a news conference. "It has some pretty grave consequences, if we were to implement the order."

[Related coverage: Judge voids Pasco County school district's 2017 west-side rezoning]

He said he would give parents until Jan. 19 to inform the district whether they wanted their children to stay where they began the school year, or if they want to return to their former schools. To do so, he invoked district policy allowing him to assign or reassign students "to prevent disruption of the educational environment."

"We believe it would be entirely disruptive for us to literally just give parents no choice, give students no choice," Browning said.

He stressed that the need to rezone students out of crowded schools has not gone away. But the district wants to take a more deliberate approach to that effort, and not just quickly react to the judge's ruling, he said.

He expected a more "expansive" rezoning, which could include more students and more neighborhoods, to take place for the 2018-19 school year.

Browning said he disagreed with some of the judge's findings. But he acknowledged that the model the district had used for about three dozen previous rezonings, using an advisory committee that included parents, did create opportunities for open meetings law violations, as the judge determined occurred in this case.

He said he hoped the district's new procedure, which does not include advisory committees, would avoid such problems.

Watch Browning's full news conference for more information.

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