Court Rules Against JCPS, Students Allowed to Attend School Nearest Home

by Devin Katayama on September 30, 2011

The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ruled that students have the right to enroll and attend the school nearest their home.

The suit was filed on behalf of 13 JCPS parents who say the district misinterprets the word enroll. In the opinion released, two judges agree and one dissents.

Judges Kelly Thompson and Michael Caperton say not allowing students to attend the same school which they enroll “defies logic.”

But Judge Sara Walter Combs says in 1990, the state specifically removed the word attendance from legislation. She says when amendments are made the changes are specific.

“It was significantly deleted to say that enroll and to attend were no longer conjoined. To enroll was left, for attendance was deleted. And we have rules of statutory construction that essentially say the general assembly doesn’t do anything by accident,” said Combs.

JCPS will not need to change its current system this school year. But the opinion writes next year, the district will have to comply with state law as interpreted by the Court of Appeals. JCPS Attorney Byron Leet says he’ll discuss option with JCPS. But it’s likely the district will ask the State Supreme Court to hear the case.

“If the school district takes certain steps to review this further that would have an effect on the court of appeals’ decision regarding the effectiveness of this opinion.”

Combs says if JCPS takes the case further, it will delay having to comply with the Court of Appeals decision indefinitely.

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