WOOD RIVER JUNCTION - The Chariho School Committee voted on Tuesday night to unanimously approve and release a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the district and The Compass School, a charter school in Kingston. The MOU provides finality to almost three years of litigation between the two education entities.
According to Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci, the litigation was initiated by Chariho when the District alleged that The Compass School was sending students back to the Chariho public school system because they were difficult to educate or disabled, which would be a violation of federal law.
Chariho lost the first part of the law suit, which was centered around tuition, but a hearing on the discrimination against students alleged by Chariho was avoided by the approval of the MOU. The Compass School’s board had already approved the MOU, so the Chariho School Committee’s approval was the final step in the long process.
The MOU discourse was mediated, and the final document yields 10 terms of agreement between Chariho and The Compass School.
“Chariho and Compass desire to develop a more open and interactive system for cooperation in dealing with students from the Chariho Regional School District who choose to enroll at Compass and who then later return to Chariho,” says the first term of agreement in the MOU, which does not include students who return to Chariho at the grade nine level.
The MOU states that Compass agrees to make appropriate staff members available to meet with their counterparts at Chariho to coordinate student transition, and that the director of Compass shall send a transition letter to Ricci within 10 days that a student had enrolled or re-enrolled in the public school district from The Compass School.
According to the MOU, this letter “shall set forth Compass’ understanding of the reasons and circumstances for that students’ and his or her families’ decision to enroll or re-enroll at a Chariho school.”
Other highlights of the MOU include the right of Chariho to make it’s own inquiry of the student and family involved to ascertain their understanding of the reasons and circumstances surrounding the transition, and that Chariho may refer the matter to a reviewer if any inconsistencies with the transition decision are detected.
The MOU states that the reviewer will be an educator or education lawyer with relevant knowledge and experience.
Chariho will also receive $19,000 from Compass within 30 days of the approval of the MOU by both parties, which is Tuesday, Aug. 21. At the time Chariho receives that payment, it will withdraw its pending litigation against The Compass School from Rhode Island Superior Court, according to the MOU.
For more information, pick up a copy of The Chariho Times.