Parents fight to keep kids at Highland Home

Published 10:52 pm Monday, September 9, 2013

A group of South Montgomery County parents are fighting to keep their children in Highland Home School – many of whom said they have sent their students to the North Crenshaw County school for several years.

In the spring, “44 or so” students received letters requesting documentation of residency in Crenshaw County, which is required by federal law.

This school year there were 66 new enrollees for the school, and 30-plus students were turned down that didn’t meet the residency requirements.

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Seven have been revealed since school began, and were asked to leave the school until they could provide documentation they are residents of this county.

Superintendent Randy Wilkes said the students were revealed when someone tipped system administrators of the issue. Wilkes said the system always investigates when they receive a tip.

Parents attended Monday night’s board of education meeting to voice their opposition, many citing their children have been out of school for 10-plus days.

Toby Milstead, a parent who’s dealing with the issue with his children, said he is irritated.

“My kids have been there since 2010,” he said. “We live on Hickory Grove Road. Mr. (Joseph) Eiland went to my house and called the board and said we could enroll.”

The Milsteads had a child graduate from Highland Home last school year.

Parents said their Montgomery County options would be to send their children to Dunbar-Ramer for kindergarten through eighth grade and to Carver High School for ninth-12th.

“My kids are not going to Montgomery County schools,” he said.

Milstead said he receives his mail from the LaPine Post Office. Other parents said they lived a stone’s throw from the county line.

Milstead, along with other parents, expressed his concerns for metal detectors in Montgomery Public Schools and the safety of his children.

School board policy allows for inter-district transfers if certain criteria are met, including a release from Montgomery Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Thompson to allow the students to attend.

Additionally, students must also meet one of four criteria, including a vocational program not being available; safety concerns; health concerns or being an employee’s child. Once families present their cases, it’s up to the Crenshaw County Board of Education to allow them in the system.

Milstead, along with the other parents present, said they had contacted Thompson and Montgomery Public Schools, but were told they could not get a release form signed because they have not attended school in Montgomery Co.

Wilkes agreed he would contact MPS and Thompson to clarify what the board is requesting. The board agreed to have a special-called meeting, if necessary to discuss allowing these students back into the system once necessary paperwork has been submitted.

Questions still linger as to how these students were erroneously admitted to the system.