WDRB 41 Louisville NewsJudge dismisses lawsuit against JCPS assignment plan

Judge dismisses lawsuit against JCPS assignment plan

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Louisville, Ky. (WDRB-TV Fox 41) -- Parents are in tears after a judge dismisses a lawsuit challenging the JCPS student assignment plan.  "It's very emotional," cries Belinda Abernathy. "It shouldn't be this hard to go to kindergarten."

Abernathy says winning the student assignment plan lawsuit against JCPS was her last chance at getting her son into a school closest to home.  "I can't make this work. I have no one to pick him up after school. I can't afford after school care. I can't afford private school."

But she and 12 other parents had their lawsuit dismissed Thursday afternoon. They claim state law requires children to be enrolled in the school nearest to their homes. But in his ruling, Judge Irv Maze said the issue comes down to wording.

The statute originally said "parents or legal guardians shall be permitted to enroll their children for attendance in the public school nearest their home." But in 1990, the State Assembly took out the words "for attendance." Judge Maze says because of that deletion, students are not required to attend the school closest to them. Attorneys for parents plan to appeal.

"This is the school system's use of semantics to incorporate what they've been trying to incorporate for over 25 years," says Abernathy's attorney Sheila Hiestand.

"As a taxpayer, I should have the right to let my child go to public school," says Abernathy.

"It's a myth to think that 'because a school is down the street, I could go there,'" says Dr. Sheldon Berman. "That simply isn't the case. There isn't enough seats in some of our schools for that happen." Dr. Berman says he's pleased with Thursday's ruling. He's asking parents upset with the student assignment plan to keep an open mind.

"I think people have to give it a chance and try it out and go visit the schools, see the schools, meet the teacher, meet the principal," says Dr. Berman.

But Abernathy has already made up her mind, and is deciding to home school her son. "This is coming at a price for the kids," says Abernathy. "Their education in Jefferson County is suffering."

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