Former Nature Coast Tech student files suit for right to return
BROOKSVILLE — A former Nature Coast Technical High student, booted out for not living in Hernando County, wants help from a judge to remain at the school.
Sandy Noble has filed a civil suit against the Hernando County School Board on behalf of her daughter, 16-year-old Jennifer Alred.
The complaint lists Alred only as “J.A.,” but she and Noble have previously granted interviews to the St. Petersburg Times.
Alred would have been a junior this year and on her way to completing the cosmetology program at the school, but was among eight nonresident students whose appeals in June to remain at Nature Coast, a magnet school, were denied by the School Board. She lives with her mother in Pasco County.
In the complaint filed Friday, Brooksville attorney Bruce Snow seeks an injunction against the School Board to allow Alred to attend classes on Aug. 24, the first day of school. Snow also wants a declaratory judgment giving Alred the right to attend Nature Coast through graduation, according to the complaint.
Among the legal arguments outlined in the complaint:
* The board effectively breached a contract created by the admission agreement signed by Noble in January 2007 that states her daughter “is required to remain in the school for a minimum of one year and may remain there until the completion of 12th grade.”
* The board violated Alred’s right to due process under the 14th Amendment when it failed to allow families to speak, call witnesses and present evidence during the appeals hearing on June 2. At that hearing, the board voted to deny all 10 of the students’ appeals, including three students who will be seniors this year, one of whom did not file an appeal.
The right to due process was trounced again later that evening when the board discussed the issue at its regular evening meeting without notifying the families of students who had appealed, Snow contends. The board voted to partially reverse itself, allowing the three seniors to return.
* The board violated Alred’s right to equal protection by allowing the seniors to remain and forcing the others to leave.
School Board attorney Paul Carland couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Monday morning but has said that the board acted within its rights and that he and Snow “respectfully disagree” on the interpretation of the law.
Tony Marrero, Times staff writer