Ripley School Board officials confident in lawsuit

RIPLEY – Ripley Central School Board president Robert Bentley said that he was “happy” that a suit against the school was moving forward.

“Legal action has been taken. We have no doubt that we will prevail in this,” Bentley said. “We embrace the opportunity to allow this to move forward.”

Bentley’s remarks were in response to a stay of tuition filed with New York State Education Department Commissioner John B. King, Jr. If granted, the stay would prevent the district from sending students in grades 7-12 to Chautauqua Lake Central School District in the coming school year.

The district has been moving forward with plans to tuition the students to CLCS. The decision to do so came after months of deliberations and a close public vote.

A citizens group, calling itself “Advocates for Ripley Central School” has retained the services of attorney Steven M. Cohen of Amherst to file a series of civil suits against members of the Ripley Central School Board of Education and to nullify a vote. Procedure requires that “exhaustive remedies” be taken through the state commission on education, he said,

Simultaneously, Cohen said the group has filed a suit with the New York state courts. “We wanted to be ready to hit the ground running if the decision goes against us.”

Cohen said parents and students are “outraged” at the plans to send students to Chautauqua Lake, when there appears to be an adequate budget.

“The savings promised have not come to fruition,” he said. “The 1.2 percent reduction in taxes was achieved by the application of reserve funding. There appears to have been no financial basis for this move.”

In other business, the district agreed to an amendment to its contract with CLCS stipulating that each district hold the other harmless in the event of an injury on school grounds.

Ripley Superintendent Karen Krause said the district was working with the town to finish a lease agreement which will allow the town to move its offices into the school building.

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