Pat v. Stanwood School Dist – Case Brief Summary (Washington)

In Pat v. Stanwood School Dist., 41 Wn. App. 707, 705 P.2d 1236, 1237 (Wash. Ct. App. 1985), the plaintiffs--parents filed an action against the defendant--school district ("school district") because it denied the request for their child to attend an adjoining county's school.

An administrative law judge reviewed the decision de novo, and concluded that the school district should have granted the release. Id. at 1238.

However, the superintendent ignored the administrative law judge's recommendation, and denied the release because it surmised that the plaintiffs failed to comply with the county's policy requirements. Id.

The policy stated:

There exists a special hardship or detrimental condition of a financial, educational, safety or health nature affecting the student or the student's immediate family, provided that the hardship or condition is likely to be significantly alleviated as a result of the transfer.

Students who move into the district in mid-year may finish the school year in their former district.

Students in grades eleven and twelve who move into the district may complete their high school program in the former district. Id. at 1237.

The plaintiffs filed a petition for judicial review, and the trial court affirmed. Id. at 1238.

On appeal to the Washington Court of Appeals, that Court discussed the plaintiffs' lifestyle and family affairs. See generally id. at 1237-38.

The student resided near the boundary line of both counties. Id. at 1237. She "would have to spend an hour and a half longer on the bus each day if she attended school in her residential county than if she went to school in the adjoining county." Id.

The mother did not drive, and the plaintiffs were apprehensive regarding the student traveling by bus. Id. at 1238. "If the student went to school in her residential county, it would be difficult for her father to spend much time with her or to assist her with her homework." Id.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs had relatives in the nearby county who also attended the student's desired school. Id.

As a result, the Court concluded that:

None of these problems individually would constitute a special hardship or detrimental circumstance. Taken in the aggregate, however, we believe the record established that a "special hardship or detrimental condition . . . affecting the student or the student's immediate family . . . may have likely been significantly alleviated as a result of a transfer. . The superintendent erred in denying the plaintiffs' request for release . . . .Id. at 1241.