Further, Gruhn said, the students who attended Northeast as part of the whole-grade sharing agreement formed bonds to Northeast and other students there, making them more likely to open enroll out of Easton Valley if the whole-grade sharing agreement was not honored.
“This is an agreement, your honor, that no school district in their right mind would voluntarily agree to do themselves. There’s nothing to gain by doing that themselves. East Central did it as a way of sabotaging that re-orgnization vote,” Gruhn said.
According to Northeast Superintendent Jim Cox, approximately 180 Easton Valley students have open enrolled to Northeast although not all students have registered. Cox estimates 160 will actually attend Northeast, with 120 of those seventh- through 12th-grade students.
Gruhn also pointed to a three-word addition relating to the parties accountable to the agreement that was made during the a special East Central meeting: “and their successors.” Gruhn said this addition also was part of East Central’s goal to make Easton Valley honor the agreement.
Gruhn argued the whole-grade sharing agreement covers government functions of Easton Valley and therefore the new district shouldn’t be bound by it.
“If you rule in favor of the plaintiff it sets a terrible precedent that a disgruntled board can sabotage a future board by agreeing to something that is very adverse to the new board,” Gruhn said.
Northeast attorney Andrew Bracken argued the vision for whole-grade sharing pre-dated the vision to merge the districts and was done to improve students’ educations rather than sabotage a new board.
“At that point in time nobody knew what the outcome of that vote would be. The Easton Valley petition appears to say that Northeast and East Central should have stopped all the work that they were doing...They should have stopped what they were doing and wait for the election,” Bracken said.