The Loudoun County School Board will spend yet another summer facing a lawsuit, thanks to this spring's school attendance boundary process.
Nine Brambleton parents filed a civil suit in the Loudoun County Circuit Court May 23 for a judicial review.
Richard Kelsey, Jamie Dean Franus, Shari Hardy, Renee Geddis Gargasz, Elaine Llanos, Tim Linder, George B. Silver, Victoria L. Heck and Rachel Bailey De Luise are all listed as petitioners, with Kelsey acting as their attorney. Kelsey is the assistant dean for management and planning at George Mason University Law School.
The dispute stems from a boundary process for HS-6, slated to open in fall of 2014 in Loudoun Valley Estates. Both the Broadlands and Brambleton communities vied to stay at Briar Woods High School. However, on April 23 the School Board adopted a plan that places around 80 percent of Brambleton at HS-6, while keeping the Broadlands at Briar Woods.
The lawsuit is not unexpected; immediately after the vote, Kelsey indicated he would be pursuing actions to get the decision overturned.
“My initial reaction is they took nine communities and sacrificed one so that they could fulfill the needs of every other community,” Kelsey said following the April 23 meeting. “In doing so, they violated the law, they violated the proffers and I think we're going to get it undone.”
Brambleton parents argued that because Briar Woods lays on land proffered by the developers, they were entitled to remain at the school and that the School Board exceeded its authority by zoning Brambleton out of Briar Woods, despite the proffer and LCPS policies.
Additionally, the lawsuit also alleges Kevin Kuesters (Broad Run), Jeff Morse (Dulles) and Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) engaged in an "improper voting alliance" and that the alliance was made to benefit certain Loudoun communities.
The suit contains several screenshots from Facebook in which Kuesters appears to be rallying Broadlands residents of Plan 12, which was later passed by the School Board.
The implemented plan was designed by Morse (Dulles) and Kuesters (Broad Run) and was largely based on an early plan by Bill Fox (Leesburg).
“I feel our process was extraordinarily transparent,” Fox said. “We were forced to give rationale based on policy and that was done. I think in terms of legality, we're on solid ground. “
But Fox noted that he respects the right of the Brambleton residents to pursue the court case if they choose.
“If they feel that's what they need to do to avail themselves of every possible appeal procedure, more power to them,” Fox said.
The School Board has 21 days to respond to the suit, which will be done by Stephen DeVita, counsel for Loudoun County Public Schools.
This will be the second summer the school district is in courts. Last year, residents from both the Beacon Hill and Potomac Station communities filed suit after a December 2011 elementary school boundary decision. Judge Thomas Horne ruled in favor of the School Board in both cases in August.