Gift lets orphan enroll at UA

August 19, 2008 

Gift lets orphan enroll at UA
Donations cover year's tuition so 13-year-old can stay in district
Tuesday,  August 19, 2008 3:10 AM
Meagan Haught will be a freshman at Upper Arlington High School after all, thanks to an anonymous donor who dropped off more than $11,000 at the bank yesterday to pay most of her out-of-district tuition.


"When I called this morning at about 9:30, there was only $1,200 in the account," Meagan's aunt, Mona Cook-Haught, said yesterday. "About 11:15, I got a phone call from the bank. She said, 'I think you'd like to know someone just came in and made a large contribution, and you have just enough to make the payment.' "

"Obviously, I'm grateful beyond words," Cook-Haught said.

Meagan moved to Upper Arlington from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and then lost her mother to cancer and her father to an accidental prescription drug overdose this year. She then moved to Columbus to live with her aunt and uncle, Cook-Haught and Stan Haught.

Although Upper Arlington allowed her to complete the past school year at Hastings Middle School, Superintendent Jeff Weaver said last week that she could no longer attend schools there because she now lives outside the district.

However, he said he would consider recommending that she be allowed to attend if the family paid the required $12,727.72 in tuition for her freshman year. That amount is based on a state-mandated formula that takes the total amount local taxpayers pay and divides it by the district's enrollment. Under the current policy, she would have to pay tuition each year that she doesn't live in the district.

The Haughts opened an account, the Haught Tuition Fund, on Friday at the Arlington Bank.

"This morning the superintendent met with the treasurer, and -- in light of all the money that had been privately raised in full for her freshman year -- they are permitting her to enroll for the first day of classes Wednesday," said Brad Koffel, the Haughts' attorney.

"On behalf of this family, we'd like to state we understand the superintendent's back was against the wall, and he couldn't agree to waive someone in as a steward of taxpayers' money," said Koffel, who the Haughts said had offered his services free.

Last week, the Haughts showed Weaver a letter from Meagan's therapist that recommended that the girl stay with her friends in the Upper Arlington district.

Meagan, who turns 14 on Friday, never lost hope that she would be a Golden Bear this week.

She said she will be taking algebra, science, literature and composition, global history, French and choir.

"I'll be extremely busy, but I'm excited," she said.