Parents Plan Lawsuit Against Controversial Redistricting Plan


by Kirk Hawkins

WAXHAW, N.C.--A group gathered in Waxhaw Wednesday night to lay the groundwork for a legal battle against Union County's redistricting plan. "At this point they've left us no option. You sneak a vote in without anybody expecting it, and this is what we have to do" said Wesley Chapel Resident Chris Bernard.

The plan would move more than three thousand students to new schools to ease overcrowding and manage growth. Current fourth graders, seventh graders, and high school students are exempt as long as they provide their own transportation to school. Those students will be redistricted after they finish elementary or middle school. "People had a feeling they would end up voting on it, but they didn't think they'd be so cold hearted about it," said Wesley Chapel Resident Maura Mackinnon.

Also exempt, the Waxhaw community of Millbridge. Union County Board of Education member Kevin Stewart is a project manager for the J.O. Grading Company. It helped build the Millbridge subdivision. Some parents say that's a conflict of interest. Kim Hillegas filed an ethics complaint with the board six weeks ago and still no answer. "There's more questions now and we can't get answers, so they are only questions," she said.

Via email, Stewart told WCCB: "This is a tired and baseless allegation with no grounds statutorily, ethically, or otherwise. As redistricting has been driven strictly by numerical data, safety, and fiscal responsibility, I find such ad hominem attacks unworthy of further comment."

And that's why Tracy Kuehler is urging concerned parents to run for open positions on the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education in Union County. "We need leadership on both boards that can sit down like adults and talk this through," said the Wesley Chapel resident.

Filing for school board candidates begins in July. Union County's Board of Elections says it had 70 percent voter turnout in 2012.
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