Steubenville, Indian Creek have hearing over Mays

STEUBENVILLE -Which school district will pay for the cost of educating one of the two teenagers convicted in the 2012 Steubenville rape case was the focus of a hearing Friday in Jefferson County Juvenile Court.

Attorneys for Steubenville City Schools and the Indian Creek Local School District argued about which district should foot the bill, estimated at around $30,000, for educating Trent Mays, 18, who was convicted of rape and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material for allegedly having a picture of the 16-year-old victim in the Steubenville rape in an outgoing text message on his cell phone.

Visiting Judge Tom Lipps sentenced Mays to two years at the Ohio Department Youth Services. Lipps approved sending Mays to the Paint Creek Lighthouse Youth Center, a privately run facility for juvenile sex offenders.

Ma’Lik Richmond, 18, was sentenced to one year on the rape charge and was released in January.

Steubenville schools paid for the cost of the education of Mays while he was in the detention facility during the 2012-13 school year . After Mays was found guilty, Lipps put in his order that Steubenville was responsible for the education of Mays, who was an open-enrollment student.

Attorney Sarah Kutscher, a Cleveland attorney representing Steubenville, said state law states the school district where the parents live is responsible for paying the education costs. Mays’ parents live in the Indian Creek school district. She said the address of Mays’ parents was not put on the record during prior hearings.

The Ohio Department of Education takes money from the home school district and gives it to the district where the open-enrollment student chooses to attend. That was done for the 2012-13 school year, but the issue gets cloudy for the 2013-14 school year.

The state funding only pays a portion of the actual cost of educating a student in a state detention facility.

Open-enrollment students have to re-enroll every July for the coming school year, something Mays didn’t do with Steubenville in July. Because he was an Indian Creek student, Kutscher believes Indian Creek should be financially responsible.

Steubenville didn’t get any state money for Mays in the 2013-14 school year, and attorney R. Brent Minney, a Cleveland attorney representing Indian Creek, said that school district didn’t submit Mays’ name to the state for funding in October, when school districts apply for funding based on the number of students enrolled.

Steubenville was forced to pay the bill because of Lipps’ order and wants the order changed to state Indian Creek is responsible.

Minney told Lipps the jurisdiction of which district pays rests with the state education department. He said the financial responsibility remains with Steubenville until the state education department determines otherwise. He said Steubenville should be asking the state education department for that determination instead of filing a motion for court intervention.

Lipps said the issue is complicated and he took the matter under advisement. He said he will issue a decision in the next couple weeks.