Committee requests state superintendent of education to overrule decision

Attorneys for a local committee have formally requested that the Illinois state superintendent of education overrule a decision regarding a proposed Union County school reorganization issue.

The request was made in connection with a proposed reorganization involving Lick Creek School District 16, Anna School District 37, Jonesboro School District 43 and Anna-Jonesboro Community High School District 81.

Supporters are hoping to have the issue placed on the March 2012 primary election ballot in Union County.

A local Committee of Ten has been working to have the school reorganization issue placed on the ballot. The committee is made up of representatives from each of the four school districts.

The committee circulated petitions which were signed by more than 400 people who wanted to see the proposal on the ballot.

On Dec. 1, regional superintendent of schools Janet Ulrich denied the petition. Ulrich serves as regional superintendent for Union, Alexander, Johnson, Massac and Pulaski counties.

Ulrich's decision came following a Nov. 22 public hearing in Jonesboro which was conducted to hear testimony regarding the petition.

Ulrich's decision is under review by the Illinois state superintendent of education, Dr. Christopher A. Koch.

Koch can go along with Ulrich's decision, or he can decide to go ahead and have the issue placed on the ballot.

The Committee of Ten, through its attorneys, John Bigler and Timothy Keller, have filed a five-page post hearing brief with Koch.

In submitting the brief with Koch, Bigler stated that the regional superintendent's decision was "improper and illegal."

The Committee of Ten requests that Koch overrule and reverse the regional superintendent's decision and "grant the petition allowing the voters" to decide on the outcome of the proposal.

The post hearing brief states that the regional superintendent "bases her decision upon and cites information/documents that were not introduced or referenced at the hearing" on Nov. 22.

The information cited by the Committee of Ten focuses on such issues as "substantive financial information" and the benefits of curriculum alignment.

The brief argues that the Committee of Ten met the requirements of the Illinois School Code with its petition and contends that the regional superintendent had agreed that the guidelines had been met, even though defects in the petition were identified in her order.

The brief concludes by stating: "It should also be noted that the entire petition process through and including" the Nov. 22 hearing and subsequent order issued by the regional superintendent "has been fraught with a complete lack of impartiality by Regional Superintendent Janet Ulrich as required by the Illinois Administrative Code."

The regional superintendent could not be reached for comment about the post hearing brief in time for this week's paper.

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