Vt. judge rules against Stowe and Elmore-Morristown districts in Act 46 case

Published: Apr. 30, 2019 at 11:59 PM EDT
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A Vermont judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Stowe and Elmore-Morristown districts fighting the state's forced merger under Act 46.

The districts argued that the state Board of Education voted to merge the districts even though voters rejected a merger proposal and the acting secretary of education had recommended against a merger.

They also argued that a merger was not necessary to meet the goals of the 2015 state law. They said the main goal of Act 46 was to create districts with 900 students. Elmore-Morristown already had 899, and Stowe is on track to hit 900 in two years.

The Stowe and Elmore-Morristown case is one of three lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law. Judge Robert Mello recently ruled in another case brought by 33 districts that the law is largely constitutional. Other elements of that case, including districts taking on the debt of other districts, continue in court.

Meanwhile, legislation to provide a delay in the forced merger appears to be stalled in the Statehouse as the House and Senate work to iron out competing bills.