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School district files response to closure challenge

POULSBO — Nearly 900 pages of information have been compiled for the North Kitsap School District’s response to the appeal filed over the decision to close Breidablik Elementary School.

The response will be about 2,000 pages by the time the district is finished compiling its transcript for Kitsap County Superior Court, according to school district attorney Cliff Foster.

Foster expects court proceedings to begin about mid-May.

The district is requesting the court dismiss the appeal and award the district costs and any other compensation the court deems justified, according to the district response obtained by the Herald.

The court will determine whether the North Kitsap School Board’s decision to close Breidablik starting in the 2013-14 school year was “arbitrary or capricious,” or was “a lawful exercise of the District’s discretion and governmental authority,” according to the response.

The school board unanimously voted Feb. 28 to close Breidablik as a cost-saving measure. An appeal was filed in court March 29 to have the court review the decision. The appeal was filed by Nicole Flowers, Kari McKinsey, and concerned families of Breidablik Elementary School.

The judge responsible for the case will determine how the case will be handled, and whether there will be a need for testimony. There is a chance the case could be put on a “special track,” where the judge would review information and written testimony, which would expedite the process. Though the information provided to the court may seem daunting, Foster said it’s easier for those parties involved in the case to read, rather than listen to testimony and “re-create all the things the [school] board was presented.”

Flowers wants the district to show why the board made the decision it did.

“A lot of parents behind [the appeal] sat on the closure committee,” she said in an interview in April.

The parents are representing themselves in the appeal.

The appeal states the School Closure Committee created to help the board “lacked fair, objective criteria.” Some of the information the closure committee received “lacked objective reliability” and was inaccurate — including cost projections for transportation and maintenance, and student capacity.

The appeal lists what parents believe were inadequacies or inaccurate information in the decision to close Breidablik.

“It is virtually impossible to list every error in the Board’s decision in this Notice with particularity as the closure process was lengthy and the record is long,” according to the appeal.

Flowers said “it was pretty black and white” when it came to whether the school board made the right decision.

“I felt like they just blatantly ignored the facts,” Flowers said. There was “no explanation at all.”

 

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