Shelby Co. (ECWd)-
Former Shelby County Board Member Dereck Pearcy was one of the few board members willing to learn their job and not only understand the laws but insist they be followed. After numerous requests for a legal opinion from the State’s Attorney on matters, no opinions were issued as the law outlines.
Strangely, shortly after those requests, Pearcy was notified his kids were going to the wrong school district, even though past residents of where he lives had their kids attend the same Shelbyville Schools with no issues. Turns out someone wanted to make an issue out of a property line in relation to the school taxing district in what appears to be some form of retaliation. According to a letter we obtained, the State’s Attorney’s office is the source of the complaint regarding Pearcy.
“On August 20, 2021, the Shelby County State’s Attorney’s Office contacted Superintendent Shane Schuricht, and reported that Students’ home was not within the ‘boundaries of the School District.”
As the matter moved through the legal system, the kids have not been in any public school for over a year. After the regional board of education issued their ruling that the kids could detach from Okaw Valley School District and remain in the Shelbyville school system we find a very strange action being taken by the Okaw Valley School Board and done so in violation of the law.
During the July 21, 2022, School Board meeting, a motion was made, seconded, and voted on to authorize the re-hearing or appeal of the Pearcy Detachment from the Oakaw Valley School district. While reading the minutes most folks would not see any issue with the action, few understand, this school board included, that any action taken must be on the agenda for the meeting in question. A review of the agenda reflects nothing about any such action to be taken. That is a clear Open Meetings Act Violation, which according to the law is a Class C Misdemeanor.
Will the State’s Attorney step in to address this crime? We suspect not since it was that very office that got this mess rolling in the first place.
More disturbing is the fact the attorneys for Okaw Valley School Board filed their motion for a re-hearing in advance of any authorization from the board. According to the filing and certificate of service documents we obtained, the filing was provided to opposing parties on July 20, 2021, which is the day before the board meeting in which the board approved the action in violation of the Open Meetings Act.
The motion filed for rehearing appears to be focusing on which reasons were determined first or not as justification for this action. Specifically, they claim a determination regarding “significant direct educational benefit” must be made before the other factors and that such determination was not made.
Is there an educational benefit for these kids and others to attend Shelbyville Schools rather than Okaw Valley? Yes. One only needs to look at the very actions of this school board and their attorney. The school board violated the law by taking action, not on any agenda, which the law says is a Class C Misdemeanor. If that is not concerning enough, their attorney files the very action in question before any such approval even took place. If that is not a clear significant and direct educational issue I don’t know what is. What did this board’s actions teach every student in this school? It’s OK to break the law?
We must note that Okaw Valley Schools is no newcomer to violating laws. During numerous elections, it was common to see campaign signs placed on school property, which is a violation of electioneering laws. Maybe the school board and their administration’s actions of ignoring the laws of the state would be significant educational concerns for these kids to attend somewhere else. So there is no confusion, we are not implying those providing the actual education to the students are responsible for the above-referenced actions. This lies on the School Board and the Superintendent.
We may never know the real reason the Shelby County State’s Attorney’s office got involved in this in the first place, but it is clear, board members in Okaw Valley are willing to violate the law and spend a small fortune in legal bills to overturn the regional board of education decision as to where these children may attend school. Why?
We have requested numerous records from Okaw Valley CUSD and will update with a new article in the future that will include exposing the thousands of taxpayer dollars that have been spent all in an effort to place the Pearcy children in a school they have never attended.