West Pasco parent files formal challenge to school district rezoning proposal

Jim Stanley challenged the district's 2017 attendance boundary revisions, as well.
Longleaf resident Jim Stanley testifies in his group's first administrative challenge of Pasco school district boundary changes, in February 2017. [Times | 2017]
Longleaf resident Jim Stanley testifies in his group's first administrative challenge of Pasco school district boundary changes, in February 2017. [Times | 2017]
Published April 23, 2018|Updated April 23, 2018

Jim Stanley does not give up without a fight.

The west Pasco County parent who brought down the school district's 2017 attendance zone revisions, leading the administration to change its procedures along the way, has filed a new challenge to the system's latest rezoning plan.

Stanley, whose neighborhood would be reassigned, submitted his complaint with the Division of Administrative Hearings late Friday.

In it, Stanley contends that the School Board did not give families that would be affected by the map changes an sufficient opportunity to ask questions, get answers and present information on the proposal. The district held its public workshop on the matter before superintendent Kurt Browning issued his formal recommendation, giving residents 3 minutes each to speak on the subject at a hearing afterward.

Responding to several residents' request, Browning refused to set up a second workshop to discuss his plan, calling the current process "fair and adequate to protect all involved interests." He also has rejected their suggested alternatives to the current plan, which heads to a board vote on May 1.

"The only logical conclusion is, it's being done out of spite and vindictiveness" for the community's past legal defiance of the board's action, Stanley said Monday.

Past coverage: Judge voids Pasco County school district's 2017 west-side rezoning 

School Board chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong and board attorney Dennis Alfonso declined to comment about Stanley's latest legal move.

Stanley said he and many 0f his neighbors in the Longleaf and Ellington subdivisions have grown frustrated by the school district's rezoning process, which he argued does not work.

He suggested the administration does not give clear explanations to support its proposed reassignment of neighborhoods, seeming not to follow its own "vague" criteria. The enrollment numbers presented to the public suggest that the changes would not accomplish the stated goal of filling vacant seats at some campuses while easing crowding at others, he added.

Several parents have brought such concerns to the board, so far to little avail.

Past coverage: Pasco parents still seek answers on proposed school rezoning 

With the DOAH complaint, Stanley said he hopes to demonstrate that the district does not have a transparent rule making process that follows state law, even after changes to the model. He pointed to several actions by the district, such as its unwillingness to hold a "draw-out" hearing for affected families, as reasons to seek outside relief.

Stanley has asked an administrative judge to prevent the board from adopting and implementing the superintendent's plan.

Some district officials have, in the past, stated they see such legal action as close to extortion — telling the district it would face high legal bills unless it complies with the residents' demands. Stanley said that's not the case.

"I'm not threatening to drive up the cost. I would personally prefer as a taxpayer not to have this go on at all," he said.

But if the district won't comply with the law, as Stanley sees it, that's not the time to walk away. "I think that when something is wrong, you fight until it is right."

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