HED: Lee school board clarifies stance on day care busing

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

The Lee County school board attempted to clarify its position on busing students to daycare centers and approved emergency repairs to Saltillo schools damaged in Saturday's storms at its meeting Tuesday.

Board President Ronnie Robison, responding to concerns voiced by Saltillo resident Vickie Burch, a parent of a student who uses daycare services, said it was never the board's intention to stop transporting students to daycare centers. But he said the practice still may have to halt if an attorney general's ruling holds that it is illegal.

"This board voted unanimously earlier this year to continue it," Robison said of the busing of students to daycare centers. "It's almost a necessity for a two-parent working family."

He said it was an anonymous complaint to the state Department of Education, and not an action by the school board, that prompted an investigation leading to a question on the legality of the practice. The district was instructed to seek an attorney general's opinion on whether it could continue to offer the service and no ruling has yet been issued.

If the ruling is against the district, Robison said the busing would have to be stopped or school board members themselves would be personally liable for any legal action by the state.

"There was an impression that the board was trying to save money," Robison said of an earlier discussion about the situation. "That's not the case. We just have to abide by the law."

In other action Tuesday, the board voted to approve emergency repairs to Saltillo schools heavily damaged by Saturday's storms that spawned hail the size of baseballs. Roofs, windows and school vehicles were damaged by the storm and superintendent Lynn Lindsey said he expects to find more damage after the next heavy rain.

The board also agreed to pay a portion of the salary for a full-time Saltillo police officer to patrol both the high school and the elementary school during school hours. The officer is available through a federal grant with the city paying 75 percent of the salary and the school district picking up the remainder.

Lindsey said the district hopes to be able to expand the service to all county schools in the future.

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