Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2003

Student-transfer policy called ‘liberal’

Lawrence schools superintendent says Dec. 1 deadline came from need to watch class sizes

July 24, 2003


About five times a day, a pleading parent calls Bruce Passman.

Callers are desperate to gain approval from Lawrence school district officials for the transfer of a child to another elementary, junior high or high school.

Passman, director of special services, generally has a one-word answer: "No."

"The biggest reason is they're not aware of the December 1 deadline," Passman said Wednesday.

The rule -- Policy JBCA -- requires transfer applications to be submitted to Supt. Randy Weseman by Dec. 1 for the next fall term. A transfer request submitted by that date is likely to be approved if it doesn't cause classroom crowding in a school.

"We're probably the most liberal school district in Kansas for transfers," Weseman said. "If you complete the request by December 1, if there's room in the class, we'll grant it. That's pretty liberal."

The transfer policy adopted by the school board in October was designed to bring order to movement of students among Lawrence schools.

In the past, about 10 percent of Lawrence students were allowed to attend schools out of their designated attendance area. The average of other Kansas districts is about 1 percent, Weseman said.

He said the school board settled on this policy after a two-year discussion of the issue. The deadline was an important piece of the reform package, he said, because late transfers often produced unwieldy class enrollments.

"If you allow transfers after we staff buildings, you skew class sizes," Weseman said. "We're trying to minimize the big classes we have."

Application extensions were granted to parents affected by the board's decision to close East Heights, Centennial and Riverside elementary schools in May.

Passman said individual exceptions to the deadline could still be granted by the district, but only to address "legal, health or emergency" situations.

Requests frequently denied are based on a parent or guardian's change of job or a decision to move a child to new after-school care, he said.

Passman said parents could appeal his rulings to a district committee, which includes two board members. The first appeal of a Passman transfer ruling was heard Wednesday by a committee, and his denial of a transfer was upheld.

Passman predicted telephone calls from parents would spike July 30, the day about 5,000 children are to enroll in elementary school.

"We'll probably have a rush of activity," he said.

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