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School district, parents face off over moves

School district, parents face off over moves

Moving children to their neighborhood schools has saved the school district money this year — but it

Moving children to their neighborhood schools has saved the school district money this year — but it hasn’t been popular among parents.

By the end of the first week of school, parents had sent in 120 transfer requests, all asking to move their child from their local school to a different school in the district.

And, in all but a couple of cases, the requests have been denied.

“In the past, we’ve been a little more lenient,” said spokeswoman Karen Corona. “Now we’re not being at all lenient. We’re sticking to the rules.”

About 97 percent of the requests were refused, she said.

The school board has created an appeals committee to hear the requests — but it’s only granting transfers in cases of “extreme hardship.”

But many parents simply want their child to stay at last year’s school, even though they moved to a different part of the city. Then, when younger children started school, parents wanted them to go to the same school. As the practice spread, the district began paying for buses to schools that should have been within walking distance for every student in the school’s attendance zone.

Now, the district’s rule is that if a family moves after Nov. 15, children can stay at their old school until the end of the school year, but must provide their own transportation. The next year, they must switch to their new neighborhood school.

One family repeatedly appealed that decision all summer, then enrolled their son at his old school anyway. After arguing for a week, the principal himself drove the child to his correct school this week, enrolled him, and then called his parents to say that the deed was done.

The boy’s father was furious.

“You mean to tell me, out-of-the-blue you pick him up and move him?” William Reid said after learning that his second-grader had been moved from Pleasant Valley to King.

It wasn’t quite out-of-the-blue: the boy’s mother had been sent a letter this summer, notifying her that her son must go to King. She wrote back, appealing the decision because Pleasant Valley was much closer to her house, and her son had spent two years there.

“He was going to Pleasant Valley and he was doing well,” Reid said. “His friends are there. His history. You do better where you know everyone and everyone knows you.”

The request was denied. Having to walk a little farther was not considered to be an extreme hardship.

On the first day of school, Reid brought his son to Pleasant Valley anyway.

The principal told him he was at the wrong building. Reid insisted. For several days, they argued the point as Reid brought his son to school. Finally, on Tuesday, the principal met Reid at the door and told him he had just one more day to make arrangements to go to King.

On Wednesday, Reid came to Pleasant Valley again anyway. This time, the district had had enough: his son was at King an hour later.

That’s the most extreme case thus far, but Reid’s son is far from alone in being forced to switch schools.

This summer, 80 students were moved from Keane Elementary and FDR Elementary to their neighborhood schools. Every first-grader and second-grader who was attending an out-of-zone school had to move; those in higher grades were encouraged to switch.

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