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Shuffled Students Spur Settlement Offer



While Fairfield Court Elementary students begin class in the hastily reopened Clark Springs Elementary School this week, a parent who's suing the district for the initial closure says she'll drop her lawsuit if the school stays open.

Kim Jones sued the Richmond School Board in September, saying the board followed incorrect procedures in deciding to close Clark Springs.

A leaky roof at Fairfield has forced the district to reopen Clark Springs — about a 15-minute bus ride away — for the rest of the school year.

Jones says the relocation of students proves her point that Clark Springs shouldn't have been closed. Most of the former Clark Springs students are now being bused to John B. Cary Elementary School.

Jones says she'll drop her suit in exchange for an apology and a pledge to reopen Clark Springs to neighborhood students. "I want the public to know that the School Board was wrong," she says.

The board voted to close the school in June following a bitter debate about how best to close its budget gap. Board member Mamie Taylor, who represented Clark Springs and voted against its closure, says she'll work independently of Jones to ask for a formal apology. She also wants the school permanently reopened.

"It feels like it's coming full circle," Taylor says, standing in Clark Springs' gym before a meeting for Fairfield community parents. "People are being held accountable for bad decisions."

School Board Vice Chairman Kristen Larson says she can't discuss Jones' settlement offer because it's a pending legal matter.

Jones' lawyer, Charlie Schmidt, says without a settlement the case is likely headed to trial within the next six months.

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