St. Thecla parents give CVS busing deadline

By: Robert Guttersohn | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 10, 2012

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Parents of St. Thecla students gave Chippewa Valley Schools until Oct. 10 to reinstate transportation of their students and St. Luke students or face possible litigation.

The parents and parishioners of St. Thecla believe the district must legally bus their children to the schools because of a 1966 voter-approved proposal that mandates the district transport the schools’ students.

In 2010, CVS stopped busing the private-school students and several of its own, due to budget shortfalls. Although the district says its legal counsel is still researching the legality of its decision, CVS has maintained that busing falls under a Michigan statute, which says a school is not required to transport non-public-school students to schools outside the district. Both St. Thecla and St. Luke are on the outskirts of the district’s border in Clinton Township.

Legal counsel for the parents said in a letter to the Board of Education and Superintendent Ronald Roberts that the 1966 vote predates the statute and cannot be ignored.

“Keep in mind that the statute was passed after the 1966 proposal,” said Michael Polsinelli, an attorney representing the parents. “As such, it cannot nullify the voter-approved mandate without another vote of the populace.”

Roberts said after the Oct. 1 board meeting that the district’s attorney is still looking into whether its 2010 decision was in fact illegal.

“When (the parents) first spoke at the meeting, we were told that what we were doing is illegal, which I don’t believe we are,” Robert said. “But we’re getting a legal opinion on that, but at least that is a starting point.”

He did not give a definitive date for when the district would have the final legal opinion.

“That stuff is never quick,” Roberts said. “But we expect to have that done shortly though.”

Meanwhile, the St. Thecla parents and parishioners have attended the last three board meetings in hopes of hearing a response but left unsatisfied. At the Oct. 1 meeting, the parents’ frustration seemingly boiled over when parent Simon Haddad called the lack of interaction from the board “reprehensible.”

“We’re ignored members of this community,” Haddad said. “I don’t know how in good faith you can write us off for over a month and not address us, not respond to us, not attempt to interact with us.”

Before handing the board a letter from the parents’ attorney, Haddad accused the board of balancing the district’s budget on the backs of the children, rather than first cutting administrative jobs.

“Restore bus service promptly without further delay for our children. They deserve it,” Haddad said. “If you stand for kids first, this would have already been done by now. If you stand for elite academia, I don’t know what to tell you.”