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  • Writer's pictureNettie Webb

Parents Take the Fight to Circuit Court: Contesting Lynchburg City School Board's Decision to Close

Updated: Apr 2

A group of concerned parents, acting in accordance with Virginia Code §22.1-87, have officially filed an appeal to contest the decision made by the Lynchburg City School Board on September 19th, 2023, to close T. C. Miller Elementary School for Innovation and Sandusky Elementary School. The petitioners assert that the decision was made in an arbitrary and capricious manner, and was not in the best interests of the students or the community.

Key Points of the Appeal

1. **Exclusion from Agenda**: The agenda for the September 19th meeting did not include a discussion of the "Facilities Master Plan," a crucial reference point for the four proposed scenarios, indicating a potential oversight in the decision-making process.

2. **Arbitrary Presentation, Capricious Vote, and Lack of Discretion**: The proposal to close the schools was introduced as an individual initiative during a work session, without prior discussion in preceding board meetings. The decision-making process lacked a clear direction and did not factor in relevant, significant information.

3. **Community Input Deficit**: The decision-making process notably lacked essential input from Sandusky families, depriving them of the opportunity to contribute their perspectives. The plan did not consider the copious amounts of community input given by TC Miller parents, nor the LCS Facilities Master Plan survey, in which 70% voted for Scenario 1.

4. **Absence of Educational Impact Study**: No educational study was conducted or presented to assess the quality of education within the schools or the potential effects of Scenario 3 on the students, raising concerns about informed decision-making.

5. **Rushed Decision Making**: The speed at which the decision was made, as evidenced by the meeting minutes, raises concerns about capriciousness and a lack of discretion. Scenario 3, alone, was discussed for 40 minutes, and other solutions discussed for 20 minutes. Multiple board members, who ultimately voted against the proposal, asked to not rush the decision-making process so that more data could be understood and re-zoning be incorporated.

“This decision will affect students for decades. Deciding without adequate data, without actually engaging with the community and staff, and without examining the short and long-term ramifications of closures is reckless.” said Carly Schaffer, T. C. Miller parent. “Our students, families, and staff deserve more than an hour long conversation.”

Closing T. C. Miller and Sandusky could have serious impacts on the LCS system as a whole.

The concerned parents believe that a review of the School Board's decision is warranted under these circumstances. "We believe that the School Board's decision to close TC Miller and Sandusky Elementary Schools was unjust and harmful to not only our children but to all Elementary Students in LCS," said Colleen Larkins "We are asking the court to review the School Board's decision and overturn it.”

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