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SALT LAKE CITY -- Several Utah lawmakers criticized the Alpine School District's lawsuit on Thursday about the possibility of closing five elementary schools during theCommission meetingtook place during the session of the parliament.
MembersAdministrative review and general supervision committeeheard onepresentationfrom a group of concerned parents, some of whom are listed as plaintiffs in alawsuit against the countyearlier this month.
The absence of the superintendent and the members of the Alpine School District board from the meeting angered lawmakers, who decided to summon the board members to appear in person at the next committee meeting. Some lawmakers have also mentioned plans to introduce school closure laws in response to parental accusations.
"I'm very disappointed that we don't have school board members who are elected officials sitting in these seats," said Senator Jake Anderegg, R-Lehi. "The fact that we don't have any of the elected officials sitting in the room irritates me beyond measure."
In the presentation, as in the lawsuit, it is alleged that the district failed to comply with the law in investigating the closure of elementary schools in Lehi, Valley View, Lindon, Windsor and Sharon and related frontier studies.
"The trial has been so devastated from the beginning that we believe it is necessary for the district to start over and re-enter the trial under the Utah Code," Alicia Alba, the prosecutor in the lawsuit and a parent representing the group, told the committee during a presentation.
According toutah code,Parents of students enrolled in the affected school must be notified 120 days before the school closes or boundaries are changed.
Essentially, a group of parents - 33 plaintiffs are named in the lawsuit -claiming the district closed schools early without properly adhering to the 120-day schedule. The district maintained that the decision to close the schools had not yet been made and that it had followed the state code throughout the process.
At the meeting of the District Board on November 29 ata proposed $595 million bond for the district fell through,the board requested a district-wide perimeter survey to explore opportunities for boundary restructuring or consolidation and to evaluate school buildings for potential closure, Alpine School District spokesman David Stephenson said.
District in early Decembersent a letter to his parentsinforming them that since the proposed bond fell through, the district would begin a border investigation that could lead to potential closures.
Stephenson said all the buildings the district wanted to address through bond funds are on the listUtah K-12 public school unreinforced masonry inventory,making buildings seismically dangerous in the event of an earthquake.
The primary schools mentioned above have been placed on the unreinforced masonry inventory and are being considered for closure.
March 1 districtparents e-mailedand mayors, city councils, and administrators, notifying them that five elementary school closures and/or boundary adjustments are being considered, and that the 120-day notice period for school closures as required by the Utah State Code has begun.
However, the lawsuit alleges that at the February 28 board meeting, the board "voted to close elementary schools in Sharon, Windsor, Valley View, Lindon and Lehi, and to implement related boundary changes and programs to be effective for school age 23-24."
Alpine School District is investigating 2 school closures, 3 others have been postponed
On Tuesday, citizens strongly urged the Alpine School District to reconsider its proposal to close five elementary schools due to seismic issues.
“On February 28, they finally voted to close five primary schools. So before March 1, which is the notification date they (Alpine School District) are now going to go with," Alba said.
Apparently, many of the disputes between the plaintiffs and the district can be traced back to the February 28 board meeting, whenboard member Joylin Lincoln filed the request"that the Board of Education directs staff to initiate a formal process, as required by state law, to close Sharon, Windsor, Valley View, Lindon, and Lehi Elementary Schools and implement associated boundaries - and curricular changes to be effective" 23 -24 school year."
The motion passed, with board member Sarah Beeson casting the only vote against.
An email sent on March 1 by the district the day after the February 28 board meeting states that the accepted motion was to "move various parts of the general border study into the FORMAL STUDY."
Essentially, the district said the vote was not the final nail in the coffin of the five schools, but a vote to move to a formal schooling process - indicated by an email on March 1 asking parents to let them know it could be affected.
Alba went even further, claiming that on March 1, the district "actually started closing schools."
“They moved the administrators. They encouraged teachers to look for work elsewhere. They asked the PTA … not to hold elections,” she said.
Asked to comment on those claims earlier this month, Stephenson said the district could not comment on "pending litigation."
The legislator answers
After Alba presented her case to the committee, Utah Senator Curtis Bramble, R-Provo, who serves as committee chairman, said the committee invited members of the district board and superintendent to attend Thursday's hearing. When Bramble learned that they would not be attending, he said they were "concerned that everyone had decided not to attend".
Stephenson, Craig Brinkerhoff, executive director of legal services, and Rob Smith, district business administrator, were the only district employees who attended the hearing in person.
Board member Lincoln was the only board member present in any way when she joined via Zoom.
Lawmakers also expressed concern that the decision to close the districts was taken at a February 28 board meeting.
"The decision is made, and once you make it, at least you make a few moves to look like you're in college," Bramble said. "That seems to be what happened with this presentation."
"It's one interpretation - that the decision was made earlier," Brinkerhoff replied. "There are other interpretations that a decision has not yet been made."
Sometimes we have to move schools and borders, close facilities and make decisions, but there has to be this transparency and I have to tell you that it seems like it was just a cover up.
— Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City
"The decision to close schools was not taken at the time (February 28), but was suggested," Stephenson said. “This March 1 email indicated which schools were proposed to close. Following this email, we held various community-wide open days."
Representative. Brady Brammer, R-Pleasant Grove, reiterated issues raised by Alba and other parents throughout the trial, claiming the district had taken "actions to close schools."
"I know that the rest of the school administration has been developing in the Alpine school district and has been allocated or transferred to schools, but not to these five [schools]," Brammer said. "We can't just - if parents are upset - that schools can't close. But that process needs to be a little more respectful to voters."
After a lengthy period of questioning district representatives, the committee voted to subpoena the district superintendent and board of trustees to appear in person at the next committee meeting.
In addition, the committee voted to open a bill addressing the process of school closures by school districts and referred it to Parliament.education committee.
Many legislators have expressed their intention to implement legislation to close schools in neighborhoods.
During the 2019 legislative session, retired Senator Karen Mayne sponsored D-West Valley CitySB245,an account that requires 120 days' notice before the school closes after that datethe Granite School District school board voted to close the schoolless than a month after county officials notified the community of the plans.
"Senator Mayne is not here. ... But what I can tell you is that she's probably not happy to hear this committee because it was a very, very important bill to her that was supposed to make parents feel empowered and not only get, you know, taken over by the district." said D-Salt Lake City Senate Majority Leader Luz Escamilla.
"Sometimes we have to move schools, borders, close facilities and make decisions, but there has to be this transparency and I have to tell you it seems like it was just a cover up," Escamilla said.
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Alpine District contains 91 schools and 82,800 students. The district's minority enrollment is 20%.How many students are in the Alpine School District Utah? ›
editorial. Alpine School District is an above average, public school district located in AMERICAN FORK, UT. It has 82,800 students in grades PK, K-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 28 to 1.How many school districts are there in Utah? ›
In 2022, Utah had 606,998 students enrolled in a total of 945 schools in 42 school districts. There were 26,168 teachers in the public schools, or roughly one teacher for every 23 students, compared to the national average of 1:16.Where in Utah is the Alpine School District? ›
|Alpine School District|
|Alpine School District Education Center (headquarters)|
|575 North 100 East American Fork, Utah United States|
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|School Name||Rank||Scaled Score|
|Nightingale College||2||95.8 (0.8%)|
|Neumont College of Computer Science||3||85.8 (1.6%)|
|Western Governors University||4||68.9 (10.8%)|
The public school in Utah has approximately average 646 students (2023). The public schools with the largest student enrollments are listed below (where sufficient data available). The largest public school in Utah (by enrollment) is Blue Peak High School with 8,701 students.What is the largest school district in Utah? ›
The largest school district is Alpine School District, serving 82,478 students. The highest graduation rate school district is Northern Utah Academy For Math Engineering & Science School District, with 98% graduation rate.How many high schools are in Alpine School District in Utah? ›
Alpine District contains 15 high schools.What are the 4 largest school districts? ›
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|2||San Diego Unified||112,790|
|4||Long Beach Unified||65,826|
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The announcement was at a board meeting on Feb. 28 after an extensive district-wide boundary study. The recommendation to the board is to close five elementary schools: Lehi, Valley View, Lindon, Windsor and Sharon.How many cities are in the Alpine School District? ›
Alpine School District is the primary school district in northern Utah County in Utah, United States including the cities of Alpine, American Fork, Cedar Fort, Cedar Hills, Eagle Mountain, Fairfield, Highland, Lehi, Lindon, Orem, Pleasant Grove, Saratoga Springs, Vineyard, (as well as the portion of Draper that is ...What is the accent on excellence Alpine School District? ›
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Most Expensive Colleges in Utah by In State Tuition.
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|1||No. UT. Acad. for Math Engineering & Science||2|
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|Evanston Township High School|
|Campus size||65 acres (260,000 m2)|
|Color(s)||Orange (PMS 1665) Blue (PMS 289)|
|Slogan||"It's a great day to be a Wildkit!"|
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|1||San Mateo County Office Of Education||Redwood City|
|2||San Francisco County Office Of Education||San Francisco|
|3||Santa Barbara County Office Of Education||Santa Barbara|
|4||Los Angeles Unified||Los Angeles|
Bois Blanc Pines School District.
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|1||Texas A&M University||74,869|
|2||University of Central Florida||68,442|
Scarsdale Union Free School District, N.Y.
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Except as provided in Section 53G-6-204 or 53G-6-702, the parent of a school-age child shall enroll and send the school-age child to a public or regularly established private school. truant at least five times during the school year.
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