Local news

School move lawsuit tossed

Judge: Hart Field group missed deadline

A lawsuit that South Hill neighbors hoped would prevent the move of Jefferson Elementary School has been thrown out.

The case was dismissed by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Gregory Sypolt on a technicality. The opposition – Hart Field Preservation Organization – failed to meet a 30-day deadline to appeal the district’s decision to move the school from its current location at 37th Avenue and Grand Boulevard to 37th and Manito Boulevard.

The group’s attorney, Seattle-based David Bricklin, was unable to argue the primary complaint: that language for the bond on the 2009 ballot, which included building funds for the elementary school, stated that the district would “modernize” the school, not move it and construct a new school, which would constitute a misuse of bond funds.

School officials welcomed the ruling.

“We are pleased with Judge Sypolt’s decision,” said Mark Anderson, Spokane Public Schools associate superintendent. “We knew we had followed the letter of the law in deciding where to place the new Jefferson Elementary and are hopeful the group opposing this decision will now put this issue to rest.”

The Hart Field Preservation Organization has not asked Bricklin to appeal the case, but the attorney thinks the group should go back to court.

“We have a strong case that the district is misusing the bond funds and will damage the neighborhood and Hart Field as a result,” Bricklin said. “Those issues were not addressed. We do not believe that decision is consistent with judicial precedent and have advised our clients that an appeal on that issue has a good chance of success.”

The school district spent about a year analyzing traffic and studying the impact on home sales. It took hours of testimony on the proposed changes to Jefferson and received hundreds of letters and emails. Additionally, a specialist determined that building the school at the proposed location would have no significant impact on the environment under the State Environmental Protection Act, Anderson said. Part of the school would be built on Hart Field.

“We are confident that any appeal or any further action by this small group will have the same outcome in favor of the school district,” Anderson said. “It makes no sense why these neighbors wasted the taxpayers’ money by filing this suit in the first place, much less why they would now consider an appeal.”

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