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Judge recommends dismissal of last redistricting appeal

Appeal alleges proposal to expand the Pleasant Valley Elementary School attendance zone was 'arbitrary and unreasonable'

July 09, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- An administrative law judge has recommended the Maryland State Board of Education dismiss the last remaining appeal of Washington County Board of Education's recent redistricting decisions, according to a copy of the judge's proposed order.

Julia Maggitti filed an appeal Feb. 24, alleging the school board's proposal to expand the Pleasant Valley Elementary School attendance zone was "arbitrary and unreasonable," according to Administrative Law Judge Kathleen A. Chapman's proposed order.

On Feb. 2, the school board voted 4-2 to approve a boundary realignment that would send 28 Boonsboro Elementary students to Pleasant Valley Elementary, effective in August. Pleasant Valley Elementary is off Rohrersville Road (Md. 67), about 11 miles south of Boonsboro Elementary, which is on the north end of Boonsboro.

In her May 25 order, Chapman recommended the Maryland State Department of Education grant the local school board's motion to dismiss Maggitti's appeal and affirm the boundary realignment.

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The state school board is expected to issue a final decision on Maggitti's appeal at its July 20 board meeting, said Bill Reinhard, spokesman for the state education department.

In February, Maggitti said her son was one of the Boonsboro Elementary students who would be sent to Pleasant Valley Elementary under redistricting.

The change would cause her son to catch the bus at 6:30 a.m., before the sun comes up in the winter, Maggitti said. She said she was concerned he would be passed by his bus in the dark and feared he might be struck by a vehicle.

Maggitti could not be reached for comment on the judge's recommendation.

According to the order, there originally were six appellants to the state regarding the Washington County school board's redistricting plan. All but Maggitti withdrew their appeals in April and May.

The other appellants were Mark and Laura Thomas, Jennifer Ashbaugh, Linda Downs-Webb, Kevin Yungmann and Dottie Gruhler.

Gruhler recently filed to run for school board. She said her decision to run for one of the three seats open in November's general election stemmed from the redistricting process.

In her order, Chapman states Maggitti failed to file a response to the school board's motion to dismiss and didn't submit an affidavit or sworn documents with her appeal. Therefore, Maggitti failed to challenge assertions made by school system officials, who submitted several supporting documents, according to the order.

According to the order, any party adversely affected by the judge's decision could file a written exception within 15 days of receipt of the decision. Reinhard said no appeals were filed.

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