Aldermen request AG opinion about home school
Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2017
During Tuesday’s meeting, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen made a decision about an ongoing matter concerning the operation of a home school in a residential zone.
The Board approved an order drafted by Board Attorney Nick Thompson that rescinded a proclamation made on Oct. 18, 2016. The proclamation granted home school instructor Kimra Torrence “prior existing lawful non-compliance use” of a tutoring service in a residential zone.
Upon further research into decisions by the Board in 2011, state law and city ordinances, as well as multiple testimonies from Torrence and the complainant, Jim Brown, Thompson advised the Board that the operation of a tutoring service in a residential zone is not in compliance with the 2011 city zoning ordinances.
The Board unanimously approved that order.
However, the Board went on to discuss whether the services Torrence provides constitute as a school as defined by city ordinances and state law.
Thompson said that since city ordinances do not specifically define a school, the city must follow the common usage of the word. Furthermore, Thompson cited Miss. Code Ann. 37-13-91, which defines a public and non-public school.
He advised the Board to seek an opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s office about whether the city has the authority to authorize under the state statute’s definition.
Thompson also said that if it is declared a home school, Torrence would not be allowed to offer tutoring services to students who attend other schools.
After Brown expressed opposition, Alderman Glenn Bolin made a motion to sign an order stating Torrence was operating a school as defined by standard usage and the state statute. The motion died for lack of a second.
Alderwoman Maggie Smith then made a motion to declare Torrence’s operation as a school under standard usage and request an AG opinion about the state statue. The Board unanimously approved Smith’s motion.
The Board said it expects to have an AG opinion by the April 4 meeting.
In a separate matter, the Board discussed an ongoing issue with a mobile home located at 107 Poplar Drive.
Code Enforcement Officer Guy Rae Holson said he was able contact the owner, who is dealing with familial disputes concerning power of attorney. The property owner said he would be willing to burn the mobile home instead of moving it.
Poplarville Fire Chief Jonathan Head said he would have to inspect the property, but the project would require taking attention and resources away from the department.
Holston said burning the structure would be cheaper than demolishing it and bringing it to the landfill.
The Board took no action on the matter.
Public Works Superintendent Sam Hale said repairs to the old City Hall building are complete after a log truck damaged the building last month.
Thompson said the driver who signed a promissory note to pay for the damages, has since left his position with the logging company. However, the company has agreed to continue the payment plan pending a similar promissory agreement with the city.
Jason Lamb, a Walker & Associates engineer, said repairs to the culverts on South Haynes Street could cost between $40,000 to $80,000, and suggested the road be closed for safety purposes.
The Board voted to close the street indefinitely until funds could be raised to make repairs.
More information about Tuesday’s meeting will be published in Friday’s Item.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.