CARBONDALE, Kan. (KSNT) – A Kansas family is pleading for help after their kids were kicked out of a local school district.
The Caskey family has sent their children to the neighboring Santa Fe Trail school district for years. Up until now, their request for transfer has been approved by the local school board. But, Milissa Caskey, the children’s mother said this year they were abruptly denied.
“The reason we were given for their denial is that we, the parents, disagree with their policies,” Caskey said.
Caskey and her husband, Lance, said they were shocked by the district’s decision since some of their kids have been attending school in the district since they were in elementary.
The parents said one of their children has special learning needs and has enjoyed the hands-on environment offered in a smaller school district with less populated classrooms. Their other son, Isaac Hook, is a football player entering his senior year.
Hook would lose his eligibility to play for his final year of high school football if he has to transfer. Aside from being unsure of how this could impact his potential for athletic scholarships, Hook said he’s also formed bonds with his coaches and the team.
“We’re like brothers to each other,” Hook said. “It would be hard to leave that kind of a family. I wouldn’t be able to play football and none of our siblings would have that same connection with the coaches we’ve been familiar with for our entire lives.”
After a tumultuous year, the family said they’ve been told they are no longer welcome. Milissa and Lance Caskey pointed to a series of issues they spoke out about.
One of those controversial issues included a protest their children participated in last year, where students across the district staged a “walk out” over disagreements in teaching style after a computer learning program was put in place.
During that time, petitions circulated online to remove district superintendent Jim Lentz from his position. Now, the Caskey’s claim he’s upset and taking it out on their kids.
“That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s trying to take away their voice,” Lance Caskey said, as he argued that the move is an attack on their freedom of speech. “Was their opposition to his policies warrant destroying a future?”
In Kansas, local school board officials have the power to decide whether students are allowed to transfer to another school district, each being allowed to create its own set of restrictions and rules.
“There are some that do not allow any students to transfer in from other districts. It would be more a matter of saying, we think the board acted in a discriminatory way,” said Mark Tallman, a spokesperson for the Kansas Association of School Boards.
In a phone call on Monday, the superintendent told Kansas Capitol Bureau that he made the recommendation to deny the students transfer from the school district, but he could not disclose why. He also said that local school boards do not have to give a reason for a denial of transfer.
The Caskey family said they are calling on people for support. A local school board meeting, and hearing for the Caskey family, will be held in the Santa Fe Trail school district on Wednesday, July 14, at 6 p.m. at the Santa Fe Trail District Administrative Center.