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Hammond Central to review its nonresident student policy after three are asked to leave

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HAMMOND — The Board of Education will review its nonresident student policy next week after three students who moved to neighboring Morristown were asked to leave the school last month, interim Superintendent Randy C. Richards said.

Viola J. Helm, Brier Hill, said her three daughters, Razia D. Phillips, 16, Jasmine A. Warwick, 13, and Macy A. Helm, 10, were asked without warning to leave the school after a meeting Oct. 29 with Mr. Richards.

Mr. Richards said Thursday that he could not comment as the matter involves individual students, but he said the school board will review its nonresident policy next when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The school’s policy states that a nonresident should be allowed to attend Hammond tuition free if the student meets the following conditions:

n A meeting is held between the parents and the Board of Education to discuss attendance.

n There is sufficient space to accommodate the nonresident student.

n No increase in size of faculty or staff will be necessary.

n Admittance will not result in the establishment of a new section.

n Parents/guardians must work out transfer conditions with the home school district or provide their own transportation. No transportation route will be changed to accommodate this policy.

n All rules and regulations in effect for district students will be applicable to non-district students. Final decisions regarding the acceptance of nonresidents rest with the Board of Education.

Mrs. Helm said she moved out of the district in 2011 after a fire destroyed her family’s home.

She said that while no formal meeting was held with the school board, former Superintendent Douglas H. McQueer said the girls were welcome to keep attending classes until they graduated.

Mrs. Helm said that during the first year, the district paid to transport the girls.

But since 2012, they have been dropped off at her parents’ home in Hammond to be picked up by the school bus.

In a meeting with Mr. Richards, Mrs. Helm said, she became emotional and yelled at the superintendent. As a result, Mr. Richards told her she could not return to school property, she said.

“I swore at him,” Mrs. Helm said. “I was at the door and my kids came out, crying, and I became upset for them after they had to say goodbye to their friends and their teachers. It was a nightmare.”

Mr. Richards said he could not comment except to say the school has a strict code of conduct regarding visitors.

As of Monday, the three girls began attending school in Morristown.

“The only thing my girls want to do is go to Hammond, where they have spent the last five years,” Mrs. Helm said. “All of this seems so unfair, and my children have been in tears because of all of this. My kids are not the only kids living out of district. They feel so singled out.”

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