Lawsuit alleges trustees are “a rubber stamp”

A lawsuit has been filed alleging Oconee school leaders violated the civil rights of Tamassee-Salem residents as they went about the decision to close the community’s combination middle/high school.   The plaintiff, Tamassee resident Lynne Martin has been an outspoken opponent of closing the Salem school.  She’s seeking a judgment to keep the school open and allow it the monetary support needed to stay open.  The following parties were named defendants in the action filed Wednesday in the Oconee Common Pleas Court:  the school district, the board of trustees and its five members, along with Michael Thorsland, individually and as county superintendent.  They are being accused of a “selective application” of a policy that allows  students to attend school outside their attendance area as long as they provide their own transportation.  The selection application alleges certain students were given preferential treatment by providing busing to students from one attendance area to another.  And the result, Martin alleges, directly led to reducing Tamassee-Salem’s enrollment—the primary reason given for closing the school next year.  She alleges due process was denied because there was “no advance community input, no public hearing, and no consideration given the community stance on the issue.”  Martin further alleges the “School Board has become a rubber stamp for any decisions made by the School Superintendent and staff.” Board Chairman Andy Inabinet this morning said he has not seen the lawsuit and declined comment.