OPS Plan Dealt Setback

Douglas County has dealt another setback to the Omaha School District's plan to take over more than two dozen schools in Millard and Ralston.

OPS had asked the Douglas County Clerk to re-draw the school district boundaries so that they coincide with the City of Omaha boundaries.

The answer was no. The Douglas County Attorney says it can't be done without authorization from the legislature or the school boards or a vote by the people.

Not only did the Douglas County Attorney determine the clerk doesn't have power to redraw school district lines but the office also offered an opinion on the school's most basic argument.

Attorney Christine Lustgarten says, "I think it's fair to say we read the statute differently."

Lustgarten says she understands the legislative concept of the One City, One School District being pushed by the Omaha School Board but doesn't think it applies in this case.

She says Millard and Ralston schools are big enough to be Class Three by definition. Omaha is the largest: a Class Five.

Lustgarten says, "We read that as a Class Three and a Class Five district can be co-existing within a metropolitan city and the legislature specifically allows for a Class Three and Class Five district."

Sandra Jensen, with the Omaha School Board, says its attorneys interpret the law differently and she was surprised the county didn't see it their way the second time the request was made.

Jensen says, "I had hoped that by the dialogue we'd had with them, and by them really looking at the issue, that they would see that the statutes are clear and it does read One City, One School District."

Ralston Superintendent Virginia Moon is thrilled with the decision but says, "No matter what happens, even if there's a quick resolution, the camaraderie of the district will take years to repair, even if it ended tomorrow. It's going to take a long time for all the hard feelings to go away and that's too bad."


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