Monday, August 9, 2004

Summer school refusal riles

Private-school parent protests Milford rule

By Maggie Downs
Enquirer staff writer

MILFORD - David Besuden simply wanted to send his daughter to summer school.

However, the district where he lives and pays taxes, Milford Exempted Village Schools, won't allow her to take a necessary class, he says.

The 15-year-old girl, whom Besuden asked not to name for this story, attends a Catholic school. Over summer vacation, she needed to take an algebra class to catch up with her classmates.

When Besuden contacted Milford High School, he was told that his daughter couldn't attend their summer school, even though she lives in the district, because she attends another school the rest of the year.

"I pay heavy taxes to support this system to both the city and the state, and yet my daughter is not allowed to use the service for which we pay," Besuden says.

In Ohio, district school boards can set their own policies for summer school.

The Milford policy "requires students to be enrolled in their district the semester prior to the time they want to take part in a school program," said Valerie Miller, district spokeswoman.

The policy, which was implemented in spring 2004, was debated among the school board, Miller said.

"We're facing more and more mandates and are faced with less and less funding to do those types of things," she said. "And the board made a decision that our first and foremost priority has to be our students. It's necessary to protect the services for them as enrolled students."

Cincinnati Public Schools allows private school students living in the district to attend public summer school at no cost.

Students from outside the district also can attend summer school but have to pay tuition.

"Within our boundaries, they are considered our students and we get state money for them," said Christine Wolff, assistant communications manager for CPS.

Besuden contacted several people to complain about Milford's policy, including superintendent John Frey. He hasn't been the first parent to protest the rule.

"I know John (Frey) had spoken with a couple of parents in regards to their concerns and their complaints with the district in regards to this policy," Miller said.

He also sent an e-mail to Carol Ball, president of the Milford school board, and called the Clermont County commissioners, auditor and treasurer. "The bottom line from what I got is that it's a school board decision," Besuden said. "They said to fight the policy or try to sue them."

Besuden said he has discussed the issue with lawyers. "I believe this policy violates state law, if I'm not mistaken, that every child is guaranteed the right to a public education," he said.

Besuden also said the policy discriminates. "The bulk of the kids who are being excluded from this school are the kids who are being sent to religious schools," he said. The closest possible class was at a school 45 minutes away, Besuden said.

So instead, he hired a tutor. For the sessions to count for class credit, his daughter must get 40 hours of class time and 80 hours of home study.

"I'm paying $900 for a tutor, instead of putting her through the Milford school system I've already been paying for," he said.



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