By JESSIE HORTON
STEPHENVILLE (April 13, 2015) — After two years and numerous hearings, the Holt family faced off with Dublin ISD in the 266th US District Court Monday morning.
Well, lawyers for both sides did anyway.
In the end, it was a win for DISD. Susan Soto, Holt family attorney, withdrew the motion for an injunction to keep the district from releasing its 2015 senior class rankings.
Attorneys for the school district filed a subsequent motion citing the Erath County District Court’s lack of jurisdiction in the case, as well as a motion to dismiss. After hearing from both sides, Erath County District Judge Jason Cashon called the attorneys into chambers to further discuss the motions. Returning, Soto withdrew the Holt’s motion and Cashon recessed the court.
Before recessing, Cashon informed the attorneys that until a Travis County court rules on the appeal, his court does not have jurisdiction. However, he did say the enforcement of the ruling does fall within his jurisdiction, but that enforcement is currently not the issue.
What this means moving forward, according to Soto, who spoke with press following court Monday, is that there is nothing short of a Travis County court ruling upholding the decision by the Commissioner of Education for the State of Texas, to stop Dublin ISD from calculating and announcing the rankings of their 2015 senior class on Friday, April 17, as planned originally by the district.
Soto said that if a Travis County court upholds the Commissioner’s decision and a hearing on the grading policies and merits is heard by DISD’s board of trustees, the school board could possibly overturn the grades in question. If that does happen, and the new calculations change the top five, a student who has been honored as the valedictorian or salutatorian could be stripped of their title.
“In a few similar cases, school districts have had to get creative with these honors,” Soto said. “So, we know it can be done. It just wasn’t the way we would have liked.”
But Dublin ISD attorney Sara Leon said it wouldn’t matter if those grades were changed or not. In her statements to the court Monday, Leon said Cheyenne Holt’s ranking wouldn’t be the issue, graduating may be though.
“This student is ranked fourth and currently is failing not one, but two of her classes, one she needs to graduate,” Leon said in her motion to dismiss the injunction. “And the matter of the grievance hearing is being appealed in Travis County, where the jurisdiction lies.”
Soto briefly touched on these arguments by noting Cheyenne’s illness (she was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has undergone surgery and treatments) as the cause of the failing grades. She said the teachers for those classes were working with the student to modify the assignments as needed to make it possible for her to graduate on time.
This won’t be the last of Dublin ISD and the Holt family facing off.
Lawyers for both sides said that in addition to the appeal case in Travis County, there are other pending issues. While neither side could speak on upcoming issues, The Flash received information that both sides would be meeting soon to discuss them and options moving forward. Soto said she would speak on those issues as soon as she could.
“Until then,” she said, “we’re waiting on Travis County.”
Below is a statement by Bonnie Holt following the hearing in Erath County District Court Monday.