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updated: 2/27/2014 4:47 PM

Part of Dist. 303 grade-level centers lawsuit dismissed

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Families who sued St. Charles Unit District 303 after school officials transformed two schools into grade level centers suffered a legal setback this week when a local judge dismissed part of their case.

A judge ruled last year that the conversion of Davis and Richmond schools into grade level centers in 2011 skirted the requirements of federal No Child Left Behind laws. However, the judge refused to force the district to undo the conversion. Parents are still appealing that ruling even as the district works to rewrite education plans to address groups of "failing" students at the two schools.

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But that's not the only remedy families are seeking. Several of the families who sued pulled their children out of the grade level centers, moved and/or sent their children to private schools costing up to $40,000 a year. The families want the school district to reimburse them for those expenses.

A judge denied that request this week.

"The judge held that there was no private right of action under the school code for our claims and, even if there was, the school district has tort immunity," said Tim Dwyer, the attorney for the families involved in the lawsuits.

In other words the judge said the families had no right to sue the district for the costs and, even if they did, the school district could not be held liable. That won't stop the families from trying.

"This ruling doesn't mean anything," Dwyer said. "We will absolutely appeal."

There is also a third aspect to the case that involves the reimbursement of Dwyer's legal fees, which is yet to be resolved. The school district also continues to incur legal costs associated with the various lawsuits. Through August of 2013, the bill was nearly $317,000.

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