- Associated Press - Friday, December 21, 2018

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Thirty Vermont school boards are suing the state over forced school district mergers under Vermont’s school consolidation law.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Washington County Superior Court against the Vermont State Board of Education and the Vermont Agency of Education.

The Board of Education had released its final decisions on the forced mergers of school boards and budgets on Nov. 30.

The lawsuit contends that the forced merger of 45 school districts is unconstitutional, going against the will of local school boards and communities that voted against them. The state board also ignored the text of the laws, the legislative intent of them, and statutory law, it said.

The board’s “casual dismissal of statute,” if upheld, will have lasting impacts, the lawsuit said.

“It is already tearing communities apart and pitting towns against each other. It is harming our students, our schools, the very fabric of rural life, the democratic process, checks and balances, and the foundational notation that governance requires consent of the governed,” according to the lawsuit, representing 30 school boards, seven select boards, one planning commission, 10 taxpayers and six students.

A second lawsuit was filed last week by the Elmore-Morristown Unified Union School District and the Stowe School District.

A spokesman for the Vermont Agency of Education said Friday that it does not comment on pending litigation.

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