OSAGE COUNTY (KSNT) – After fighting to stay in a school district they’ve been sending their children to for years, the local school board has denied an Osage County family’s request to stay Wednesday evening.
The Caskey family lived in and have sent their seven children to the Santa Fe Trail Unified School District 434 for years, but recently moved to a neighboring district. Their new home is right outside of the Santa Fe Trail district border, according to mother Milissa Caskey.
“I’ve been going here since third grade, so about 10 years, and been very much a part of the community, a part of the school’s culture,” Isaac Hook, the Caskeys’ eldest son, said.
While they moved, the Santa Fe Trail school board approved the family’s transfer waiver request to have their children stay in that district’s schools. The Caskey parents said one of their children also has special learning needs and has enjoyed the hands-on environment offered in USD 434 with smaller classrooms.
However, in her son Hook’s senior year and last shot at high school football, Milissa said the board abruptly denied the waiver.
With an attorney in tow, the family attended Wednesday’s 6 p.m. USD 434 board meeting to appeal the decision to keep them out of the district. At the start, supporters of the family left the meeting at standing room only.
However, after several closed-door executive sessions, the board returned to their seats around 7:30 p.m. to inform the crowd it would uphold its decision to keep the family out of USD 434 schools.
Hook believes he will lose his eligibility to play for his final year of high school football if he can’t stay in the district.
“I have college scouts that were coming to watch my football games and I won’t be able to do any of that if we can’t get this reversed,” Hook said.
Aside from being unsure of how this could impact his potential for athletic scholarships, his parents are concerned he would lose the bonds formed with his coaches and the team. Throughout the dispute over the waiver transfer, his coach offered to move practices off school property so Hook could keep working with the team.
“And if he was to go play at the adjacent school, he would literally be forced to play against his teammates that he’s been training with all summer to play,” Lance Caskey, his father, said.
After a tumultuous year, the family said they were told they are no longer welcome. The Caskeys pointed to a series of issues they spoke out about, including their kids participating in a walk-out protest. Students across the district staged the walk-out after the school put a computer learning program in place for some core classes.
During that time, petitions circulated online to remove Santa Fe Trail Superintendent Jim Lentz from his position. The Caskeys feel as though the decision to keep their family out of the district was an act of revenge, and plan to keep fighting to appeal their tranfer waiver’s denial.