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Hernando County School Board should let out-of-county students remain at Nature Coast Technical High

Hernando School Board members are scheduled to meet this morning to discuss legal strategy in response to litigation from a Pasco County teenager seeking reinstatement to Nature Coast Technical High School.

The appropriate strategies: fold; wave the white flag; concede; cry uncle or apologize.

The board shouldn't need legal advice on this one. School administrators bungled a simple task and children shouldn't be penalized for the adults' failing to do their jobs properly. The litigation is part of the reason superintendent Wayne Alexander was negotiating a separation agreement late last week after board Chairwoman Dianne Bonfield criticized his lack of oversight.

A majority of the board members now say juniors-to-be from outside Hernando should be allowed to remain at the magnet school since the district erred by failing to confirm addresses and allowing up to 20 children from Pasco and Citrus counties to enroll improperly over the past few years.

Earlier this year, the board said only seniors-to-be could stay at the school reserved for Hernando residents only, which brought a lawsuit from Sandra Noble on behalf of 16-year-old Jennifer Alred, who lives just south of the Hernando-Pasco line. Alred is one of eight students, five of them juniors, whose appeals to remain at the school were rejected by a split board. Alred is a cosmetology student and wants to complete her coursework at Nature Coast.

Her suit contends unequal protection since the board allowed seniors to remain, but not juniors, and said the board violated her right to due process when it reconsidered its vote earlier in the day — allowing seniors to stay — at a regular board meeting without notifying students or their families who had appealed unsuccessfully.

Fighting this case would be a waste of school district time and resources and arguing to the contrary at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday would be counterproductive. At this juncture, putting up a legal defense would be arrogant and serve only to interrupt the education of high school students who want to take advantage of the vocational training offered.

At its meeting this morning, the Hernando School Board should acknowledge its staff's errors and allow Alred and another unidentified student to re-enroll at Nature Coast. It's the most sound legal strategy available to the board and simply the right thing to do.

Hernando County School Board should let out-of-county students remain at Nature Coast Technical High 08/16/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:30am]
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