Parents still fighting to get kids in HHS

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Parents of the group of South Montgomery County students, who were forced out of Highland Home School due to not living in the county, are still fighting to get their children back into the school.

A few days before Labor Day, seven students were identified as not meeting the residency requirements for Crenshaw County Schools.

According to the parents of these students, they have each attended HHS for three to five years, and someone at the central office approved their admission.

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Parents spoke to The Journal on Friday, citing that neither Crenshaw County Public Schools nor Montgomery Public Schools have stepped up to help their children.

Crenshaw County leaders have said in order for those students to be considered for inter-district transfers, they need a letter from the MPS superintendent giving them permission to attend, and they must meet one of four criteria, including safety, health, not vocational programs or they are a child of a teacher in the system.

At the September board meeting, members of the board offered to hold a special-called meeting as soon as they had all the necessary paperwork from the parents.

Still, parents have had no luck with getting a letter from MPS, and now parents said they have been forced to home school their children.

Parent Keisha Ellis said she’s forked out $180 in homeschooling fees, $150 for curriculum, and another $75 for her other child.

“This has brought a lot of expense for us,” she said. “(Crenshaw County) finally refunded my money for the iPad.”

Ellis has a fifth grader and an 11th grader, who have attended the school for five years.

Ellis said her children have not been troublemakers.

In fact, she said her fifth grader represented Highland as the only fourth grader to make it to the county spelling bee last school year.

Gary Raupach, whose son Keifer Walpole was a senior at HHS, said his son lacks “maybe a credit” to graduate, but said the situation has made his son want to just “take the GED and join the military.”

Raupach said that when they lived in Montgomery, Walpole a magnet school, and his older brother graduated in 2012 from HHS.

“He’s an A&B student,” Raupach said. “He helps others with their school work. His mom even transferred her job to Greenville in order to be able to attend his senior events. He’s even passed all of his exit exams.”

Parent say, all the students involved live on Hickory Grove Road, which isn’t far from the county line.

In many instances, the parents say the county line runs right through their properties, and all have a LaPine address.

What parents are especially concerned about is why they didn’t receive a letter in the springtime or during the summer, so that they had time to get the information needed together. They also feel that their children’s safety would be compromised if they were forced into MPS.

Superintendent Randy Wilkes said at the September board meeting, the system had only recently found out these students do not meet the residency requirements.

Board attorney Mike Jones said previously that the system violates federal law by allowing the students to attend the system due to mandates from a desegregation order Crenshaw County and other systems were under.

Parents say they have tried multiple times to get the letter needed to release them from MPS, but so far, they had no luck with former superintendent Barbara Thompson, who resigned last week.

They plan to ask interim superintendent Margaret Allen for help.

The Journal attempted to contact Allen to see if she was planning to issue the letter for the students to make their case to get re-enrolled at Highland Home.

Attempts have gone unanswered.

Parent Toby Milstead, who served as the spokesperson at the board meeting that brought the situation to light, said he’s to the point that he has spoken with several attorneys.