Homeowners filed a petition to disconnect their subdivision from one school district and annex it to another school district under a provision of the Illinois School Code that authorizes this procedure. The petition had been signed by at least 2/3 of the voters in the subdivision. The Lake County regional board of school trustees conducted a public hearing, and the petitioners presented evidence that the change in schools would provide an educational advantage to the students, would increase home values in the subdivision, and would not be a financial detriment to the districts. At the conclusion of the hearing, the board denied the petition. The board based its ruling on a number of factors, including that the change would not decrease travel time for students and that the subdivision did not have a "community of interest" with the new schools.
The subdivision appealed to the trial court, which reversed the board's decision, and disagreed with the board's findings. Specifically, the trial court determined that the new schools would be closer and would have a safer route. The trial court also found that the board erred in failing to consider the petitioners' preferences.
On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court, agreeing that the regional board erred in denying the subdivision's petition to change school districts. Merchant v. Regional Board of School Trustees of Lake County, 2014 IL App (2d) 131277 (Sept. 30, 2014). The appellate court went into great detail about the detachment process, and the standards that petitioners must establish under the School Code for detachment. After weighing all of the factors, the appellate court determined that the petitioners established sufficient evidence in favor of their application to change school districts, and the regional board erred in denying that petition.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf