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Parents Sue So. Tier School For More Say, Lower Taxes

Harpursville's School Transparency Organization for Parents, or STOP, has sued the district over alleged violation of open meeting laws.

Parents in Harpursville, New York, are taking their school district to court. A group sued the school earlier this year over what they say is a lack of transparency. The case went before a Broome County judge Tuesday.

The group is called STOP, or School Transparency Organization for Parents. They say their school used a secretive process to get rid of two administrators last year and hire replacements. They say the school board continues to violate open meeting laws by doing too much of its business during closed-door sessions. Open meeting laws spell out which parts of school board meetings have to be public.

“The public feels like they don’t know what’s happening, and instead they just get told what’s going on,” says Laura Barbieri, the group’s lawyer. “They would like the school board to discuss, actually deliberate in public.”

Barbieri says the parents just want more input into school decisions. “They don’t want to do the board’s job,” she says. “They instead just want to be consulted. They just want to be informed. They would just like to know what’s going on.”

The parents also say taxes are too high because the district already has a large reserve fund. The Harpursville superintendent was unavailable for comment on the case.

Parent concerns might not have a place at court, though. Barbieri says the judge seemed cautious during this week’s hearing.

“I think that he might issue a decision that says that although he sympathizes with the parents, he thinks that there’s other avenues to pursue rather than to come to court,” she says.

Those avenues could include a complaint to state officials or an effort to vote board members out of office. Barbieri expects a decision on the case within a couple weeks.