Kentucky Supreme Court hears case against JCPS - News, Weather & Sports

Kentucky Supreme Court hears case against JCPS

The justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court at the April 18 hearing The justices of the Kentucky Supreme Court at the April 18 hearing
Byron Leet Byron Leet
Sheila Hiestand Sheila Hiestand

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The argument over the wording in the Kentucky statute that determines where you child goes to school has made it all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Earlier this year the appellate court ruled that the parents who sued JCPS were right and the student assignment plan violated their rights to attend neighborhood schools so JCPS appealed to the highest court in the state. They heard the same argument we've been hearing for the last year and a half. JCPS saying that enroll and attend mean two different things while the parents who are suing saying their children's rights have been taken away because they cannot attend neighborhood schools.

The seven justices asked a lot of questions during the hour long arguments from lawyers representing Jefferson County Public Schools and the parents who are suing them. JCPS attorney Byron Leet argued that back in 1990 when the word attend was taken out of the statute that determines where kids go to school, but left enroll it applied to the district, not the individual school. Leet added that the words "enroll" and "attend" do not have the same meaning.

"It just defies common sense to suggest that the way the General Assembly wanted to make sure this statute covered attendance was to take it out of the statute," said Leet. "That doesn't make sense."

Attorneys for the parents who want their kids to enroll and be able to attend a neighborhood school say that argument is what is destroying the education for kids in JCPS.

"Using semantics, as they talked about earlier, has done nothing but destroy the youth of our county and city and that's just not right," said Sheila Hiestand, an attorney for the parents.

They think JCPS is spending too much money busing students away from their closest school saying it is money that could be spent on a better education in the classroom. To that the justices questioned why that was a decision for the court and not the school board. JCPS attorneys say that is the fundamental flaw with the lawsuit.

"The answer to that is not to go to court every time you don't like the result," explained Leet. "These decisions are best left up to the people elected by the citizens, whether it's Jefferson County or Kentucky or the U.S."

When asked by the justices how possible it would be for JCPS to do what the parents are asking, Leet replied, "It is impossible to achieve in Jefferson County and probably many counties around the state for the principal reason that people don't live in Jefferson County where the school buildings were built many decades ago."

But the parents argue it can be done and is the best for the students.

There is no timeline for when the justices will make their decision. When they do, it's possible it will be the finally say in the student assignment plan.

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