AIS appeals decision on residency dispute

Christy Howell-Hoots - [email protected]

AUGUSTA — The Augusta Independent School District has filed an appeal regarding a ruling in the Bracken County and AIS residency dispute.

In January, the Bracken County School District conducted hearings to decide if students enrolled in AIS were actually living inside the city limits of Augusta.

The findings of those hearing were sent to the Kentucky Department of Education. After reviewing said findings, Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis ruled in favor of the Bracken County School District.

The ruling by Lewis stated AIS “acted in bad faith and attempted to subvert the nonresident student agreements when it instructed parents of students who resided in the Bracken district that (powers of attorney) were an alternative to paying tuition to attend Augusta.”

According to Lewis, concerning power of attorney forms for the 2018-19 school year, the letters should only be accepted with no changes to the standard language.

The school district will also be required to send a copy of every student’s POA letter to the Kentucky Department of Education by Sept. 1 of each school year, or within 15 days of receipt, if after Sept. 1, as well as a statement from the Director of Pupil Personnel and the superintendent, addressing each student and setting forth an explanation of why enrollment in AIS is warranted.

“The primary fact to be considered is where a student lies his or her head most nights, but additional supporting information must be provided to KDE to show how same was established,” Lewis said in his ruling.

AIS will also be subjected to an attendance review conducted by KDE at the conclusion at the 2018-19 school year to verify the accuracy of attendance records.

“If Augusta is found to be in compliance with the regulations regarding the nonresident students, and the terms of this agreement, then Augusta will be placed back in the normal rotation cycle for future attendance reviews,” Lewis said.

AIS appealed the ruling before the Kentucky Board of Education, which upheld Lewis’ initial ruling.

Recently, AIS appealed the ruling a second time and a hearing will be held in a Franklin County Circuit Court at a later date.

AIS Superintendent Lisa McCane said the district is appealing the decision, because it does not believe the ruling is supported by law.

“Augusta Independent believes the Kentucky Board of Education’s decision is unsupported by law and the evidence produced during the hearing. It is unjust to allow a decision to stand when the decision is in contradiction of the law,” she said.

Bracken County Schools Superintendent Jeff Aulick also responded to the appeal.

“Bracken County Board of Education understands that Augusta Independent Board of Education exercised its right to appeal the decision of the Kentucky Board of Education, that affirmed the Kentucky Education Commissioner’s finding that Augusta Independent unlawfully enrolled students who resided within the boundaries of the Bracken County School District in Augusta’s schools. Bracken County Schools remain confident that the Franklin Circuit Court, where the appeal is pending, will uphold the prior decisions as rendered,” he said.

Christy Howell-Hoots

[email protected]