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Choice' bill passes Senate

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
March 1, 2001
A bill allowing parents to choose whether to send their children to Meridian or Lauderdale County public schools was amended and passed Wednesday by the state Senate.
The original version of the bill, HB 413, co-authored by Reps. Eric Robinson, R-Quitman, and Tommy Horne, Independent-Meridian, passed the full House in February.
It would allow students who live within the Meridian Separate School District but outside Meridian's city limits to transfer from city schools to county schools. The bill retains a provision that funding would follow students to their new school district.
County parents had complained they had no voice in city school issues because they cannot vote for Meridian's mayor and city council members, who in turn, appoint Meridian school board members. Many who have a problem with that lack of representation spoke out against two failed Meridian school bond referendums last year.
Burton said it's difficult to say whether he supports the bill.
He said he thinks complications could result from the bill.
Burton said he doesn't know if the bill will pass "federal muster." He said given the desegregation rulings of the 1960s, there may be a federal law that overrides the bill.
Since the bill was amended in the Senate, it goes back to the House. Burton said he expects the House to consider the issue next week.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at