Parents and school officals appear in court

January 9, 2008 5:25:49 PM PST
Wake County parents are continuing their legal battle to keep year round schools optional.

However, administrators want to assign students as they see fit.

The two sides are battling it out in the state court of appeals.

On Wednesday, no decision had been reached as both sides presented their arguments.

Parents say all they want is a choice. School leaders feel with so much growth the only choice is to put more students in year round schools.

Everyone in the appellate court agrees, Wake County can legally open schools on a year round calendar.

The school board's attorney argued that they should then be allowed to assign students to those schools.

"I'm having trouble seeing why, what the authority is for saying that the school board doesn't have a right to choose where the student goes," Appellate Court Judge Martha Geer said.

"It's the compulsion, it's the coercion, it's the coercive nature of the school board's assignment that is a question here," Wake CARES Attorney, Bob Hunter.

Parents say year round should be a choice that everyone should be given the same opportunity.

"It's about opportunities that occur during the time that the children are not in school such as academic, athletic, artistic, these are things that are not equal across Wake county as some parents are forced to go to year round calendars and others are not," Dawn Graff with Wake CARES said.

This school year, Wake converted 22 existing schools to a year round calendar and they're opening more year round schools.

They say it creates more seats by putting students on rotating schedules. A lower court order requires them to get parental consent.

"Just for sure capacity we need to win this," School Board Member Eleanor Goettee said. "We are optimistic, we are hoping for a decision in a reasonable amount of time. We are cautiously optimistic."

A decision could take months, both sides asked for the ruling to be expedited but there is no time limit for the judge's decision.


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