Letter to the GPS Governing Board from 8 Gilbert Jr High Parents (past, present, and future)

The following letter was sent to the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board via email on January 1, 2013.

Dear Governing Board Members:

We, the undersigned, believe that the district is in violation of ARS 15-341(A)(33) as it relates to the notice requirements regarding the closure of Gilbert Junior High School and the letter sent to GJHS parents on September 18th, 2012. There are three specific areas within subsection 33 that were violated by the district and the governing board. We further believe that the district is in violation of ARS 15-341 (G) as it relates to a reduction in per pupil square footage.

While we recognize that the there was a 10-day notice provided in the letter between the date the letter was sent and the governing board meeting held on 10-2-12, there was not notice of the time and place of the 10-2-12 meeting, as required by law. There are parents within the community who did not attend the board meeting because they were not aware of the time and place. These parents have stated that they were unable to attend the board meeting because they did not know where it was, especially because it changed locations for the particular meeting when the closure decision was made and the notice lacked the time and place of the meeting for them to properly locate it.

Additionally, the letter dated September 18, 2012 did not inform the community that the school would be closing as the statute refers to. However, the board made a decision on 10-2-12 to "close GJHS" without giving proper notice by using the words closure, as required by law. By using the word repurposing, many parents within the community were unaware that this meant that the school would actually be closing and feel they did not receive adequate notice of closure as stated by the law.

The letter dated September 18, 2012 was sent only to the GJHS students, and the feeder school 6th grade students, however, the statute is quite clear that "parents or guardians of all students affected in the school district" must be notified. It is quite clear that the students at the receiving junior high schools are affected by the decision to close a school. There will be an influx of up to 300 students at two of the other GPS junior high schools which will result in affecting the current students and families at those campuses. They will most assuredly be affected in extra-curricular areas, and will likely be affected in other areas, i.e., the school nurse will have 300 more students, the school psychologists will have 300 more students, etc.

With regard to ARS 15-341 (G), as of November 1, 2012, the School Facilities Board had still not been notified for approval. While we understand that the School Facilities Board does not hold a school district accountable for not following the law, the bottom line is this: the SFB can hold the school district accountable by not allowing for an increase of building capacity in the future, and most importantly, the law was not followed.

Collectively, we have sought legal advice, and are considering moving forward with legal action regarding this issue. Rather than spend unnecessary funds (ours, and the district’s), we respectfully request that you address the legal, moral, and ethical issues at hand by rescinding the decision to close Gilbert Jr. High School, and publicly recognize that at least two Arizona Revised Statues were violated.

Thank you for your time,

Karen Udall
Lisa Nicita
Tamara Duke
Rob Guderian
Mickey Andrie
Lara Berkey
Chrissy Quillen
T.W. Quillen
Gilbert Jr. High School Parents (past, present & future)

ARS 15-341(A)(33) Provide written notice to the parents or guardians of all students affected in the school district at least ten days prior to a public meeting to discuss closing a school within the school district. The notice shall include the reasons for the proposed closure and the time and place of the meeting. The governing board shall fix a time for a public meeting on the proposed closure no less than ten days before voting in a public meeting to close the school. The school district governing board shall give notice of the time and place of the meeting. At the time and place designated in the notice, the school district governing board shall hear reasons for or against closing the school. The school district governing board is exempt from this paragraph if it is determined by the governing board that the school shall be closed because it poses a danger to the health or safety of the pupils or employees of the school. A governing board may consult with the school facilities board for technical assistance and for information on the impact of closing a school. The information provided from the school facilities board shall not require the governing board to take or not take any action.

ARS 15-341 (G) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, a school district governing board shall not take any action that would result in a reduction of pupil square footage unless the governing board notifies the school facilities board established by section 15-2001 of the proposed action and receives written approval from the school facilities board to take the action. A reduction includes an increase in administrative space that results in a reduction of pupil square footage or sale of school sites or buildings, or both. A reduction includes a reconfiguration of grades that results in a reduction of pupil square footage of any grade level. This subsection does not apply to temporary reconfiguration of grades to accommodate new school construction if the temporary reconfiguration does not exceed one year. The sale of equipment that results in a reduction that falls below the equipment requirements prescribed in section 15-2011, subsection B is subject to commensurate withholding of school district capital outlay revenue limit monies pursuant to the direction of the school facilities board. Except as provided in section 15-342, paragraph 10, proceeds from the sale of school sites, buildings or other equipment shall be deposited in the school plant fund as provided in section 15-1102.

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