Local News

Apex Family Takes School Reassignment Battle To Court

Posted August 16, 2006 2:46 a.m. EDT

— A judge could set the tone in a lawsuit against the Wake County school board. A family is suing over reassignment and a decision in the case could come as early as Tuesday.

When school starts Aug. 25, Amber Bailey will go to one high school, but her sister, Brittany, is slated to go to another.

"It's a very difficult thing logistic-wise to get the two kids in two separate places," said Rhonda Bailey, the girls' mother.

The Baileys are suing the Wake County School Board over the separate school assignments, saying it would prevent Brittany from going to an early morning religious class essential for their Mormon faith. Amber normally takes Brittany to school, but the heart of the matter is that the girls would be split up.

"I don't want to call into question anybody's judgment, but I would like a little more thought going into these processes," said David Bailey, the girls' father.

The school reassignments were born out of the need to fill two new high schools. As a rising 10th-grader, Brittany is required to go to the new Holly Springs High while Amber, an 11th-grader, will stay at her old school.

School board members decided not to make exceptions for separating siblings because it would be hard to fill the new schools, but school board member Ron Margiotta feels the policy goes too far.

"I think I can understand the need to fill new schools, but we have to have concerns for these families," he said.

The Baileys hope a judge will keep the girls at the same school while the lawsuit plays out in court, but they are preparing for either option.

"I'm sure we could make it (Holly Springs High School) work, but not without putting unnecessary burdens on other people," said Brittany Bailey.

School board members do not comment on pending litigation, but court papers show attorneys will argue the board used its "lawful authority and discretion" with the assignment. Board members estimate they heard about 1,000 appeals and granted about 38 percent of them.

The Baileys said they went through all the appeals options before filing suit.