Why we are pursuing legal action

The Provo City School District has previously proposed to relocate Dixon Middle School, but the bond that included that proposal was soundly rejected by the voters of Provo.

The School District is now pursuing the relocation using an obscure bonding method that bypasses voters. The School Board voted 4-3 to bond for the relocation without taking it to the voters.

Fortunately, Utah provides its citizens with a referendum process that allows voters to challenge any legislative decision by putting it on the ballot if enough voter signatures can be collected. Many people are familiar with the process because we have had several attempted referendums at both the state and local level in the past few years. It has a high bar for signature gathering, and an established process with dozens of steps laid out that must be met by both the government and the referendum sponsors. It is a general process that can be used to challenge any legislative action by a local government.

Unfortunately, the Provo City School District has decided that they are just going to ignore us, despite our taking all the necessary legal steps to initiate the referendum process.

Provo School District claims that an obscure referendum pathway from 1953 is the only method to challenge their actions. Their alternative has much higher signature requirements, shorter deadlines, and none of the procedures or required support of the modern referendum process. They are intentionally ignoring the modern established legal procedure in the hopes that they can quickly push through their vision against the will of the community.

The school district has repeatedly failed to respond to statutorily required communications. They have been unwilling or unable to answer even simple questions we have asked. When we tried to have a simple conversation about what format they wanted signatures presented to them, it took 3 days and multiple in person meetings to get a response, and when they finally provided something to us, they had added in additional requirements not found in any code.

We have asked to meet with them to discuss our concerns and have asked them not to proceed with the relocation until we can resolve the disagreement. We have asked them to take the steps that the state law requires them to take so we can proceed with our right to challenge their decision and refer the question to the voters. But they have refused to meet with us and they have indicated that they are moving forward with the relocation.

The reason why the school district went with a municipal bond instead of the traditional general obligation bond was to avoid going to the voters. Their plan now is to push through with bonding and begin construction before legal challenges can be heard. The school district wants to frame the situation as our group having failed from lack of support, when the real reason this process has been delayed is their own obstructionism.

Unfortunately this means we now have to engage in an expensive legal battle in order to participate in the political process. We have retained experienced counsel (Parr Brown Gee & Loveless) but we will need continued financial support going forward. If you are able to contribute to this effort, please consider donating.

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