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District Will Allow Jimmy Peters Back in Class on Monday

Education: Ocean View officials are now satisfied that the 8-year-old boy's father has valid residency.

May 04, 1996|MARTIN MILLER and DIANE SEO | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

HUNTINGTON BEACH — The 8-year-old boy at the center of the struggle to mainstream special-education students will return to class Monday as a result of the city school district's reversal of a decision two weeks ago to keep him out.

School officials removed Jimmy Peters from Circle View Elementary on April 16 based on suspicions that the family lived in the jurisdiction of another school district.

But Ocean View School District Supt. James R. Tarwater said Friday that the father, Jim Peters, submitted acceptable proof of residency in court papers filed on Thursday.

"I'm very pleased," said Jim Peters, a Huntington Beach resident. "But I don't know how he can be considered a resident today and not one yesterday when nothing has changed."

School officials said they reversed their decision because they saw Peters' driver's license and a receipt of his rental payment, which verified the family's residency. School officials had been unwilling to accept Peters' canceled rent checks or an apartment lease as acceptable proof, Peters said.

The residency documents the district accepted surfaced in a temporary restraining order Peters filed Thursday that asked a judge to force the school to readmit his son to regular second-grade classes.

The school's move to ban Jimmy from the classroom has prompted an investigation by the state Department of Education to examine if the district acted appropriately.

Peters accused school officials of retaliating against his son for entangling the district in long legal battles.

But school officials say they banned Jimmy based on tips that the family lived outside the district. Further, school officials added, they gave Peters more than a week to adequately prove his residency before they removed the boy.

In a highly publicized case in 1994, the district went to court to move Jimmy into a special class for disabled students because of behavior problems. A federal judge sent Jimmy back to class, but protesting parents were waiting at the school. Peters agreed to have his son receive one-on-one instruction at home.

Jimmy returned to school last fall, but his father and school officials continued to wrangle over his education, oftentimes in court.

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