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The Janece Kuchina Story

 Janece Kuchina had been operating the Kuchina Country Day School in Paradise Valley, Arizona since 1983, initially as a private school and then, after 1996, as a charter school. A charter school is a public school that is given significant autonomy in setting its curricula. Unfortunately, charter schools in Arizona have frequently been the targets of zoning regulations that seem designed to force these innovative schools out of business. Janece Kuchina found this out first hand when she was forced to step down in 1999 after being charged with criminal misdemeanor violations of the local zoning ordinances.

Her alleged transgressions, however, were modest to say the least. One of Kuchina's violations was giving swimming lessons to students in her home pool which adjoins but is not part of school property. Another violation was that she stored school material on her personal property. This seemingly innocuous act led the town to get a search warrant of Kuchina's residence. The warrant authorized a search to uncover objects "used ... for committing a public offense" including school furniture, chalkboards, games or toys "that may be used to entertain or teach children in a school setting."

Opponents of the school claim that the Kuchina school provides poor teaching as indicated by "abysmal test scores." However, the Kuchina school's standardized test scores are virtually identical to those of the Paradise Valley Unified School District where her school is located.

While Kuchina works to resolve her legal problems, her son Chris has taken over the temporary management of the school.
Source: Goldwater Institute