Bay District Schools officials ask for more time when it comes to the fate of Oscar Patterson

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay District Schools officials are asking for more time when it comes to deciding the fate of a failing school.

Tuesday, the district filed for a temporary injunction against House Bill 7069 in hopes of getting more time.

"We had a lot of citizens in Bay County that have asked questions and asked if we were doing anything and we really did not want to talk about what we were working on until it was completed and in the court's hands so that one we wouldn't upset the courts and two we didn't misspeak and so this is what we told the community we were going to do something with the courts and this is what it is now," Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.

For months, Bay District Schools officials have been fighting against House Bill 7069, regarding education requirements in the state.

One of the focuses of the bill requires actions be taken against the lowest-performing elementary schools, like Oscar Patterson, based off assessment results.

"House Bill 7069, basically the way it's written would require us to do one of three things: Close the school, which we are adamant we don't want to do that, or look at two charter options," Husfelt said.

Now the district is waiting to hear from the Second Judicial Circuit Court in Leon County on its injunction request and so they can put a hold on making a decision.

"We believe this injunction would fairly give us one more year to try and continue to improve but show that we are improving," Husfelt said. "We're hoping the courts are going to say, 'Wait a minute, you don't need to do this for this school.'"

The house bill is essentially forcing the district's hand before the final school grade is even determined.

"We feel really positive about what's going on there right now," Husfelt explained. "We've got early testing data from what has happened just this month and we are seeing some very positive trending, so we believe we are going to be able to turn the school around and start showing growth and improvement."

Husfelt said he's concerned they will make a decision that in the end, will be unnecessary.

"Two of the three options involve hiring an outside company or firm from the district and it is extremely difficult to find a company that is willing to come in and take that task and for a plethora of reasons they just don't want to come in and take on a challenge that they think will be almost impossible," Husfelt said. "Some companies won't let you get out of the contract once you sign the contract and so it's crazy. I don't want to promise hundreds of thousands of dollars to someone that I might not even need."

If the court does not rule in favor of the injunction, Bay District Schools will have to make a decision to close Oscar Patterson, or turn it over a charter by next week.

"We believe if that happens or they make us to try and do that, we have a problem, one with the federal court order we are already under with segregation, and we think it could cause irreparable harm to that school in that community," said Husfelt.

Oscar Patterson also must bring its grade up from an "F" to a "C" to avoid action, but those school grades won't be revealed until later this year.

"The ultimate goal is to improve the school grade and that would be by helping students continue to grow and learn and so that is the ultimate goal involved in that is to be able to maintain and keep the school open and the only way we are going to be able to do that under the current law that is out there, unless the courts change it, would be one of the two options of charter initiative," Husfelt said.