Family's dispute with school district continues

(WFSB photo)

Their address, mail and even taxes say Middlebury, but because one family’s property straddles the Waterbury line, with the house itself in Waterbury, the school district is forcing them out.

Eyewitness News has been on this story for a year now, and it may be coming to an end.

The mother at the center of the battle said even if they win, they’re coming out losers. That’s because, in order to keep their son in a Middlebury school, they had to move.

That should have resolved the school issue going forward, but it won’t solve the past. That’s because the district can come after them for years of back tuition, and there’s no promises that won’t happen.

“Even standing here today, going through everything we’ve gone through, I can’t believe it’s come this far,” said Heather Murray.

The Murray’s home on Richardson Drive was on the books as being in Middlebury, but after years of living there, town officials recently discovered the house itself is in Waterbury.

Some of the property is in Middlebury.

The Murrays pay taxes to both towns but had their children enrolled in Middlebury schools, until they were asked to leave.

Heather Murray said she wasn’t pulling her children out of school without a fight.

One year later, the Murrays did what they needed to do and moved to an apartment solely in Middlebury.

“If this never happened, we’d still be living in our house on Richardson Drive,” Murray said.

Their son Alijah is in Memorial Middle in Middlebury, and their daughter Faith is in a charter school in Waterbury, and no matter what happens in court, their statuses shouldn’t change.

This fight has left the family financially and emotionally depleted.

“We still own a house that has been devalued by this decision, we can’t sell it. We’re doing the best we can do bring up the value on it so that we can try to sell it,” Murray said.

Until that happens, they’re paying the $1,300 per month mortgage for the home as well as the $950 a month rent for their apartment, but that’s not all.

If a judge does not side with the Murrays on the appeal, they could be sued by Region 15 for back tuition.

“They told me it was $14,000 a year per child and that’s $28,000 since 2008,” said Murray.

Multiplied by those eight years, and that comes out to $224,000.

When Eyewitness News asked Region 15 if they were looking to go after it, the schools finance director Keith McLiverty said “The Region at this time is not giving up its right to pursue tuition for the period when they were not residents of the district and attended Region 15 schools.”

If that happens, the Murrays said it could cripple them.

“I thought our argument was very strong, but we keep losing, keep taking hits,” Murray said.

Even though a decision on the initial appeal wasn’t made, it does not sound as if the judge was going to side with the Murrays, saying the law is the law -- If the house itself is in one town, that’s where you live, that’s where you go to school.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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