PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Parent Jim Stanley just learned a valuable lesson: everyday citizens can take on the government and win.
“The only way to challenge the result was to challenge the process,” he said.
He went for that challenge after the Pasco County School District demanded students, like his daughter, Lauren, transfer schools as part of boundary rezoning.
The district formed a committee that suggested to Superintendent Kurt Browning where to redraw boundaries for several schools.
Thinking the process was flawed, Stanley and other families sued.
“They just weren’t interested in listening to the voices of literally thousands of their constituents,” Stanley said.
But, a judge listened and called the process unlawful.
In a 15-page decision, Judge Kimberly Byrd explained how several committee members privately emailed each other, which is a violation of the state’s Sunshine Laws.
During one meeting, the committee split into two groups and held private conversations, which is illegal.
That means the rezoning plan is now void.
“My primary focus is minimizing the disruption to education for our students,” Browning said.
After the ruling, Browning explained that he was disappointed, but was swift in announcing that students can now remain at their school or go back to the school they went to before they were moved.
Rezoning will continue next year.
“One of the pitfalls of being in a district that is continually growing and growing at a pretty good clip, is you got to deal with growth,” Browning said.
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