Elmhurst Parents Hire Attorney, Could File Lawsuit Over Closing School

By Laura Donaldson

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 13, 2010 at 6:15 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Fort Wayne Community School officials could be looking at a lawsuit over the closing of Elmhurst High School.

The group Save Our School: Save Elmhurst High School has hired an attorney who could file the suit as early as Tuesday, April 20th.

Group organizers say closing Elmhurst violates the right to quality education in Indiana’s Constitution. That’s because the majority of students are being sent to Wayne High School, which has been identified as one of the lowest achieving schools.

“We would just like to let everyone know that there's a higher authority,” Save Our School group organizer Angie Hayden Sutton said. “Fort Wayne Community School Board did make the decision to vote for the closure of Elmhurst High School but we do have the right to take that decision to a judge and let him or her decide how we should proceed in that matter.”

The group's attorney, Robert Vegeler, says he's also exploring the possibility that the school board's decision was not based on fact or logic.

“If you just all of a sudden take those students send them to another school, where they don't get what they're entitled to under federal and state law then you're condemning those students to academic failure,” Vegeler said about Elmhurt’s special education program closing. “And that can't be lightly taken.”

The Save Our School group was able to hire Vegeler after raising $1,500 at a six-hour car wash Saturday.

” The majority of donations were one dollar bills and spare change,” Hayden Sutton said. “Proof that there is power in small numbers when we pool our resources and work together toward a common goal. “

The group has raised $5,000 by soliciting funds from parents and alumni. Money that will help them dig into the law.

“There are some public laws in Indiana that require a certain proficiency and like I said the boundary proficiency is that you have a school with 100 percent graduation rate and you send those kids to a school with a 0 percent graduation rate in the name of fiscal soundness and anybody would be shaking their head. I'm not saying that's what applies here but that is the kind of thing that we're exploring,” Vegeler said.

A potential lawsuit could cost FWCS thousands of dollars. A FWCS spokesperson says they don't have a comment.

The suit must be filed within 30 days of the closing announcement. That means they have to file by Thursday, April 22nd. But, a decision to file the suit is expected Tuesday.

Save Our School: Save Elmhurst High School will have a fundraiser Saturday, April 17th from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. at the Upholstery Outlet in Fort Wayne.

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