Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Stillwater School District’s Decision to Close 3 Schools

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday morning issued a ruling that the Stillwater Area Board of Education acted within the law when making the decision to close three elementary schools next school year.

The Court concluded that the March 3 school closure hearing “afforded a reasonable opportunity for interested parties to testify on the question under consideration,” conformed to the requirements of Minnesota law, and therefore, the Board’s decision to close Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools the schools is “supported by substantial evidence” in the record.

“We appreciate the Court’s consideration of this issue,” a statement from Stillwater Area Public Schools reads. “Our student, staff and families of varying perspectives have remained earnestly and deeply engaged throughout this process, and we are grateful to them. We are looking forward to working along with our communities to continue our transition into the start of the 2017-2018 school year.”

According to the ruling:

“Substantial evidence in the record supports each of the Board’s findings. Based on these findings, the Board concluded that closing the three schools is necessary and practicable. While the record would have supported other conclusions, it is not for us to reweigh the evidence.

Neither is it our role to assess the wisdom of the Board’s decision. Our system of government depends on citizens’ selection and oversight of elected officials to make political decisions. As one speaker commented at the March 3, 2016 hearing, “If you decide to vote yes, I . . . will never vote for you guys, and I’ll go push so you all are not reelected.”

Influencing elected officials through the political process is not only an appropriate response to the actions of elected officials, it is fundamental to maintaining a representative democracy.

Whether the Board’s school-closure decision was a good one is a question not before us on certiorari review. The school-closure decision lies within the realm of decision-making entrusted by the legislature to the judgment of the Board, and its decision is reasonably supported by substantial evidence in the record.”

Here is 834 VOICE’s reaction to the ruling:

Read the full ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals: