GRAFTON -- Marion County school buses can keep picking up scores of students inside Taylor County's borders -- at least for now.
Whether the practice will continue long term is a question that may be headed to the state Supreme Court of Appeals.
Taylor County Circuit Judge Alan D. Moats denied Taylor's request for an immediate ban on Marion bus stops inside Taylor Wednesday. He did not want to make a change during the middle of the school year.
This was welcome news to some of the parents present at the hearing.
"I would literally have to chase the bus to its next stop," said parent Leah Moyer.
Moyer, who lives near the Hickory Hills development, said her two middle- and high-school-aged children are now picked up near their driveway, as it is on the bus' loop back into Marion County. Because she and her husband work day shifts, she said they could not drive their children to school.
Moats directed attorneys for the two school systems to boil the border dispute into a single question.
He will consider the question in mid-December and rule on what will happen to the 80-100 local students involved. He will then refer it to the Supreme Court for a potential statewide ruling.
Taylor attorney Basil Legg said he would recommend a question something like, "Does one county have the right to establish bus stops inside another county without the latter county's consent?"
Taylor County schools filed the injunction request against Marion schools when Marion continued making the bus stops after Taylor requested it not do so. Legg hopes a decision on the case will be finalized before the 2002-03 school year.
In his arguments for an immediate ban on the bus stops, Legg said they have caused an explosion of transfers in certain border communities. Some of the transfers are not authorized by either school system.
In addition to causing record-keeping problems and confusion among neighborhood residents as to where children should attend, Legg said the transfers are costing Taylor about $500,000 per year in enrollment-based state funding.
"By approving one thing (bus stop), you're approving a raid on (Taylor) students and a dissolution of its school system," Legg argued.
Stephen Brooks, Marion attorney, said that county had never intentionally sought Taylor students.
He said, until the dispute erupted, Marion was unaware of how many students were involved because some of the transfer students have Fairmont addresses. Others began school in parochial schools in Fairmont and then continued into the Marion system.
"There are students attending school in Marion County that do not have approval to do so," Brooks said. "But we don't want to uproot everyone in the middle of the school year."
Another aspect of the case, which dealt with officially transferring the entire group of students involved into Marion County schools, was delayed. Marion attorneys were amending the motion to list students individually, according to Moats' office.
Regional Editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1447 or by e-mail at email@example.com.