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Meridian school board revisits legal issue

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Dec. 4, 2001
The Meridian school board is exploring the ramifications of a state law that allows students in certain portions of the city to attend county schools.
Board members met Monday in closed session with Jackson attorney Ben Piazza, who specializes in school matters, to discuss possible litigation associated with House Bill 413. The bill allows parents living in the Meridian Separate School District to send their children to county schools unless a resident of their area is appointed to the Meridian school board.
Although board member B.J. Barrett, appointed in June, is a representative from Meridian's added territory, the board is apparently exploring the possibility of challenging the law as a violation of the federal voting rights act.
In other matters, the board was briefed on a proposed repeat offender program for the district. The program is an attempt to keep more students in school when they would normally be expelled.
The program offers a reduced stay in the district's alternative school for certain infractions, from two nine-week periods to one nine-week period. The students will also receive mental health counseling.
Although the program would be for students who display serious behavior problems, such as open defiance of the teacher or use of profanity, the students in the repeat offender program will not have expulsion on their permanent records.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at