From Staff Reports

Thornton Academy in Saco and the parents of at least 12 students from Arundel have sued Regional School Unit 21, arguing that the Kennebunk-based district has illegally deprived Arundel students of their right to attend Thornton Academy’s middle school.

RSU 21 covers Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, and has its own middle school in Kennebunk.

Arundel students have attended Thornton Academy Middle School under a soon-to-expire contract developed before Arundel joined RSU 21. The regional school board and Thornton Academy are now disputing whether Maine law protects the right of Arundel students to choose whether to attend Thornton Academy Middle School or the Middle School of the Kennebunks.

In the school board’s view, current Arundel studnets can stay at Thornton Academy but future middle school students from Arundel will attend the Middle School of the Kennebunks.

Thornton Academy’s headmaster and many Arundel parents say state law protects the students’ continued access to Thornton Middle School.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in York County Superior Court.

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