PADUCAH, Ky. (CN) – Parents in the fast-growing but remote community of Oak Grove claim the county Board of Education violates their children’s constitutional rights by refusing to build a school there, forcing the kids to ride the school bus “for nearly two hours every morning, and arriv(e) home nearly two hours after the school day has ended.” Ten parents sued the Christian County Board of Education in Federal Court.
The families say the lack of an elementary school in town subjects their children to “unreasonable conditions such as having to arrive at the bus stop by 6 a.m. or earlier to catch the bus, riding in the bus for nearly two hours every morning, and arriving home nearly two hours after the school day has ended.”
Oak Grove has a population of more than 8,000, is the second-largest town in Christian County and is one of the fastest-growing cities in Kentucky. The nearby Fort Campbell military base has more than 24,000 residents, and its presence there “insures a steady flow of, and increase to, Oak Grove’s population.”
Despite the rapid growth, the families say the school board has “intentionally and repeatedly” refused to build a public school to Oak Grove, even though private landowners agreed to donate land for it.
The parents say the school board’s refusal to build a school is “based upon vindictiveness, maliciousness, animosity or spite, and is unrelated to a state interest.”
Children from Oak Grove students are sent to South Christian Elementary and Pembroke Elementary, about 10 miles from Oak Grove. Eighty-seven percent of the students at South Christian Elementary are from Oak Grove and 64 percent of Pembroke Elementary’s kids are from Oak Grove, the parents say.
They say the refusal to build a school in town violates their children’s rights under the 14th Amendment.
The school board plans to rebuild Christian County Middle School and Pembroke Elementary instead of building an Oak Grove school, which will “preclude the building of a new school within Christian County for many years,” according to the complaint.
The parents want the school board ordered to build a school in Oak Grove before it builds or improves any other schools in Christian County.
In addition to the 10 named plaintiffs, 98 other people have asked to be named as plaintiffs, and the group says it will seek class-action certification within 20 days.
The families are represented by Jason Holland of Hopkinsville, Ky.