Parents sue Minnesota district over decision to close 3 schools

Parents sue Minnesota district over decision to close 3 schools

Group seeks to stop the Stillwater district from shuttering 3 elementary schools.

A parents group is suing the Stillwater (Minn.) school district to halt the closings of three elementary schools.

The MInneapolis Star Tribune reports that the group known as 834 Voice contends in the lawsuit that the closings approved last month by Stillwater school board are illegal. It also accuses two district officials of financial conflicts of interest.

The board voted 5 to 2 on March 3 to close the three campuses in 2017—Marine Elementary in Marine on St. Croix, Withrow Elementary in Hugo and Oak Park Elementary in Stillwater.

The decision was part of a reorganization that will shift many of the district's 8,300 students to new schools by 2017 to accommodate enrollment growth to the south. The closings have been timed to coincide with construction of a new elementary and expansion of the district's high school.

The lawsuit accuses the Stillwater district, also called Independent School District 834, of misrepresenting the intent of a 2015 bond election by saying money would be spent on improvements at the three schools now set to close.

834 Voice also alleges that board member Kathy Buchholz is improperly benefiting from the district's facility changes because her husband's architectural firm received a $4.97 million district contract.

The parents group also says the Stillwater officials wrongfully awarded a contract to the financial services company of district finance director Kristen Hoheisel's husband.

Because of the pending litigation, the Stillwater board says it will delay consideration of revised attendance boundaries for schools.


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