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Should Utah charter schools be allowed to seize private land?

Jun 20, 2017 by

Image result for American Preparatory Academy photos

High school is being built despite court denials of charter’s bid for a southern access.

Ben Wood –

When construction began on a new American Preparatory Academy in January, the charter school lacked required permits from the Utah Board of Education, according to newly obtained school board emails.

The project timeline and American Prep’s ongoing and unprecedented quest to seize private land through eminent domain drew sharp critiques from some school board members, expressed in email chains during March and April with subject lines like “APA train wreck in Draper.”

Beyond the plight of a single school, the so-called “train wreck” has catalyzed a debate over who can condemn property for charter use.

“Charter schools sold themselves to Utah as cost-effective alternatives to traditional, neighborhood schools. They were also supposed to be innovative,” state school board member Carol Lear wrote March 24. “Bullying neighbors and property owners seems outside of that initial mission.”

Lear wrote that public and private dollars have been “squandered” by APA administrators, who sued their neighbor, Price Logistics Center Draper, in a yearslong attempt to access a nearby road.

APA plans to open a second campus on its Draper property this fall, but the parking lot is blocked from 11950 South by a so-called “grudge strip” owned by developer and former U.S. Ambassador John Price. While school representatives contest the ownership of the land strip, the ensuing dispute left APA functionally landlocked, relying on an easement driveway and, more recently, the purchase and demolition of an adjacent home to allow emergency access through Draper’s Inauguration Park neighborhood.

“This willful disregard for the lives of these public school students is breathtaking and really leaves no choice but to take the property to prevent this man [John Price] from putting up an impenetrable fence and endangering their lives,” APA founder and former state Charter School Board Chairman Howard Headlee wrote in a March 4 email to charter board members.

Source: Should Utah charter schools be allowed to seize private land? | The Salt Lake Tribune

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