Secretary of Education Rejects Transfer of Highspire to MASD

Sec Ed rejects transfer BANN

STATEMENT ON THE HIGHSPIRE EDUCATION COALITION PETITION

On January 16, 2019, the Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued his Opinion and Order rejecting the proposed transfer of Highspire Borough from Steelton-Highspire School District to Middletown Area School District because it “is not meritorious from an educational standpoint.” The Secretary’s decision upheld the Deputy Secretary’s earlier pre-adjudication determination, which reached the same conclusion last year. The Middletown Area School District (MASD) believes the Secretary’s decision is thoughtful, comprehensive and well-reasoned – and the correct one based upon the facts and the law.

MASD expressed its opposition to this proposed transfer when Highspire Education Coalition (HEC) filed its petition 4½ years ago. During that time period, MASD fully cooperated with the Department’s extensive review of this petition by responding to all of its inquiries for information, data and records, as well as making its school facilities available for inspection. Thereafter, MASD supported a vigorous hearing process before the Secretary to allow all parties the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments in support of their respective positions in this matter. That process ultimately resulted in state Department of Education rendering two separate decisions in two years that HEC’s petition should be dismissed.

MASD’s solicitor has advised that HEC may file an appeal of the Secretary’s latest decision to the Commonwealth Court. We sincerely hope that does not occur. MASD’s strong preference would be for the parties to accept the findings reached by the Secretary of Education as final, and for HEC to bring this litigation to an end. But if HEC persists in continuing this litigation for another round, MASD is prepared to defend the correctness of the Secretary of Education decision.

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