The Pasco School District received notice that a group of residents living in the North Franklin School District want their kids permanently transferred to Pasco schools.
The petition, filed with the Educational Service District 123 on May 17 and certified by the county auditor July 11, asks that the group's properties be moved into Pasco school boundaries.
The Pasco School Board on Tuesday took the first step toward negotiating the terms of a possible transfer with its neighboring district by selecting a team of negotiators.
The scenario of property owners' wanting to be absorbed into another district is quite rare in this region.
No such petition has been filed in Pasco for about 10 to 15 years, said Sarah Thornton, executive director of legal affairs.
And the ESD 123, which encompasses most of Southeast Washington, has only seen one other such request in several decades, said Pasco Superintendent Saundra Hill at the meeting.
The parents of 14 children living along Juniper Road in rural Franklin County listed Mesa home addresses on the petition's signature list. They also wrote on the petition that their children have gone to Pasco schools since 2003 as out-of-district transfers.
The families have had to go through "annual turmoil" from needing to apply anew each year for acceptance into Pasco schools, the petition said.
It did not say why the parents wanted their children to attend Pasco instead of North Franklin schools.
Board member Bill Leggett wondered out loud during the meeting why Pasco, with its well-publicized overcrowding problems, would want to take in more students now.
But the board only had to decide on preliminary procedural steps toward negotiating with North Franklin.
It selected two board members -- Sherryl Lancon and John Hergert -- and a yet-unnamed district official to represent Pasco in negotiations.
Those negotiations likely would revolve around financial arrangements between the two districts, mainly for transportation of the 14 kids.
They live about 20 miles outside downtown Pasco, and the district would become responsible for busing them to school, Thornton said.
Talks between the two districts will begin in a few days and can last no longer than 90 days. If the districts agree on the terms of the transfer, each school board then votes on the agreement, Thornton said.
If they can't agree, the ESD appoints a hearing committee.
That hearing process can be quite drawn out, Thornton said.
A man who said he was one of the petitioners angrily told the Herald after the meeting that the district was "trying to push out" his children after they had attended Pasco schools for years. He did not give his name.
-- The board swore into office its new non-voting student members, Trinidad Chavez and Sergey Gorbatyuk.
Chavez told the Herald he wanted to get more involved in the schools and that he hoped the office would improve his public speaking skills. Chavez, a senior at Chiawana High, said he naturally is shy.
Gorbatyuk said being on the board will be his first taste of a political office. The Pasco High senior plans to study political science in college.