Lebanon Board Denies Tuition Waiver for Boy
Lebanon — A third-grader at Hanover Street School will attend his last class there on Friday, unless his father, who lives in Windsor and recently gained legal custody, pays tuition covering the rest of the 2013-2014 academic year.
On Wednesday night, the School Board let stand, without discussion, a superintendent’s ruling that Edmund Vigneault should pay about $3,000 for his son Lucian to finish the third grade at the K-4 elementary school he’s attended since the middle of the 2012-13 academic year.
“I feel there’s been an injustice to kick my son out of Hanover Street School,” Vigneault said before Chairman Jeff Peavey cut off discussion.
When Vigneault tried to ask the board to waive the tuition for Lucian, Peavey said that privacy laws prohibit the board from discussing the c ase of a specific child in a public setting. Peavey said that the board would be willing to discuss the case in nonpublic session if Vigneault asked to be put on the agenda for April 25.
Vigneault said before the meeting that Lucian started second grade in Newport before moving to Lebanon with his mother and younger brother during the 2012-13 school year, when he started at Hanover Street.
“It’s the fourth school (that Lucian has) been in in three years,” Vigneault said before the meeting. “I’ve talked with my son. He really wants to finish the year there. His teacher … he’s very happy with her. She’s helped us out with clothing and stuff.”
Vigneault said Lucian and his brother moved in with him in Windsor last fall, but the school did not demand tuition until he was awarded full legal custody of the boys in March.
The Lebanon district first approached the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union and was rebuffed.
In an exchange of e-mails earlier this week, which Vigneault shared with the Valley News , Lebanon Superintendent Gail Paludi informed Vigneault that in the absence of payment from the supervisory union, he must pay tuition, or Lucian would be dismissed on Friday.
According to a policy that the school board adopted in May of 2011 — a copy of which Paludi e-mailed to Vigneault — “non-resident students may only attend district schools when their attendance has been approved by the superintendent. If the superintendent agrees to enroll a non-resident student, the district will either charge tuition to the parent or, alternatively, the superintendent may seek to enter into an agreement for the payment of tuition with the school district in which the student resides.”
The policy concludes: “The provisions of this policy may be modified on a case-by-case basis, as needed, pursuant to separate contracts, agreements and other binding arrangements.”
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Peavey, while unwilling to discuss Lucian’s specific case, said: “The policy states what it is.”
After the meeting, Vigneault said that he cannot afford to pay the tuition.
Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union Superintendent David Baker confirmed that he declined Paludi’s request to pay tuition for Lucian to attend Hanover Street for the remainder of the year.
He said he’d never received such a request.
“Usually, late in the year, a Vermont district would simply let the child stay,” Baker said. “I can’t speak to Lebanon policy, but if there is no actual expense incurred, and it is in the best interest of the child as determined by our staff, then we would waive any tuition for this short period of time if the tables were turned.”
David Corriveau can be reached at email@example.com and at 603-727-3304.