Andover School District asks to have lawsuit dismissed

·2 min read

Oct. 10—ANDOVER — Lawyers for the Andover School District have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Fusion Academy after town officials twice denied the private education company permission open a facility in town.

"Fusion is not entitled to the School Committee's approval to operate a private school," the district's lawyers wrote in the recent court filing.

Fusion, a Detroit-based private education company, filed a lawsuit against the School Committee and district officials in the Superintendent's Office in June alleging the officials denied the company's First Amendment right to academic freedom after school officials denied the company permits to operate as a private school in town.

In Massachusetts the local school committee has the say over which private schools are allowed to be permitted in its community.

Andover officials say the company has not given specifics about how or when the committee denied the company's right to academic freedom, especially since district staff helped Fusion Academy officials navigate the permitting process.

"The lack of specificity alone is sufficient for the court not to consider this aspect of Fusion's claim," the district's lawyers wrote.

In court documents, the district's lawyers laid out the company's multi-year process of attempting to acquire a permit.

Fusion first applied for a permit in 2019 but was denied for multiple reasons including the lack of teacher instruction time.

When the permit came before the board again, committee members ultimately denied the company a permit in a 4-1 vote because Fusion Academy for the same reason: The school's one-on-one teaching model would not provide students with enough hours of in-person teaching.

"Fusion acknowledges it spent a year 'reworking its (original) application in a way that addressed the alleged weakness there articulated,' referring back to the School Committee's denial on it's first application. Clearly, then, Fusion was aware of the concerns raised by the School Committee and took specific actions to address them," the district states in court documents.

Fusion operates more than 60 schools in 17 states —including three in Massachusetts.

District officials also added in their filing that the company can reapply for a permit that addresses the School Committee's concerns.

Fusion Academy has filed documents saying the company intends to keep fighting the lawsuit and does not want it thrown out.

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