An appellate court has decided a lawsuit originally filed to stop the transformation of Davis and Richmond elementary schools into St. Charles Unit District 303's first grade level centers will now continue as a lawsuit to undo the grade level centers.
A group of 13 parents in the former Davis Elementary attendance area, filed the lawsuit last summer, before the grade level centers became a reality. A local trial court judge dismissed the lawsuit, but an appellate court sent the meat and potatoes of the complaint back to the trial court last week. That means the K-2 and 3-5 grade level centers that completed their first year of school a few months ago might be undone.
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The parents who filed the lawsuit had argued in their original filing that school officials only came up with the idea for grade level centers as a means to circumvent the repercussions of the No Child Left Behind Act. Before the conversion to grade level centers, Richmond Elementary has lost 25 percent of its students. The district had to offer Richmond parents the option of sending their children to another district school after repeated low test scores by some of Richmond's students with limited English proficiency caused the school to be tagged with the failing school label created by the federal law.
Parents in the lawsuit argued the grade level center plan amounted to a "school improvement plan" as defined by No Child Left Behind and the Illinois school code. School district officials said the switch to grade level centers was not a school improvement plan. A local trial court will now determine which side is right and if the school district ran afoul of the school code.
Superintendent Don Schlomann said he's unclear what would happen if the court ruled against the district.
"That part of the argument was never fleshed out because we never got to that point in the case," Schlomann said. "I'm not sure what the remedy would be."
Tim Dwyer is sure. He's the attorney for the parents who filed the lawsuit. Dwyer said having a chance for a court to decide which side is right about a possible violation of the school code represents a "full victory" at the appellate level. Dwyer said his clients want the grade level center setup reversed and Davis and Richmond schools restored to their former state.
"The remedy is to undo what was illegally done," Dwyer said.
A date for the first appearance before the local trial court has not yet been established.