03/25/04 — Student transfer policy tightened slightly

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Student transfer policy tightened slightly

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 25, 2004 2:06 PM

The Wayne County school board tightened up its student transfer policy a little, but two members withheld their support, saying it did not go far enough.

The new policy would not automatically allow transfers for students out of district to the next level, if the school they wanted to be transferred to was full.

For example, a student attending Eastern Wayne Middle School out of district wouldn't automatically transfer to Eastern Wayne High School, if the high school was already full. The parents would have to apply for transfer.

Board member Thelma Smith said it was very hard to vote for any kind of transfer policy because of the adverse affect she feels it has had on students in central Goldsboro. The school system has had an open transfer policy, which over the years many have blamed for central Goldsboro schools becoming mostly black.

"I didn't vote for it the first time, I cannot vote for it this time," she said during a meeting of the board Wednesday night.

She said she doesn't see that the transfer policy does any good for students in the six feeder schools to Goldsboro High. The board has held ongoing debates over the years about the racial imbalance within those schools.

"If and when new schools are built, it will continue," she said of the imbalance. "We cannot afford to lose any more children, to maintain the kind of comprehensive high school that we all want for our children."

Board member Shirley Sims agreed.

At a work session earlier in the week, she proposed that parents be surveyed to see if they would be willing to send their children to the central Goldsboro schools to seek racial balance.

She and Mrs. Smith were the two dissenting votes on the seven-member board.

Under the guidelines of the amended transfer policy, which will be effective July 1, parents of children who attend school outside of the district in which they live must reapply for student transfers at the end of elementary school and at the end of middle school.

"This places the student back automatically to the home district," said Dr. Craig McFadden, assistant superintendent for accountability. "If the school is at capacity, the student from out of the area would not be accepted."

He said that a person moving into a district gets first priority to go to schools in that district.

The new policy also stipulates that students who have previously been approved for transfer to a district will have priority over new out-of-district transfers.

McFadden said transfer letters have already been mailed to parents for this year and many have been returned. "They have done what they can to secure their positions for next year," he said.

Mrs. Smith said her concern is that students will still be able to transfer as long as a school is not at capacity. There was also discussion about reconciling home addresses to ensure students were placed at the right school.

McFadden said, "If they physically move and establish a domicile, that's their district and they can go to school there."

Board member Rick Pridgen said he would hope that over time, there could be a change in the racial balance in the central Goldsboro schools.

In the meantime, he said, "What we're changing in the current policy will give us a better idea of where people are living, because they'll have to come in the prove their residence."

Board member Lehman Smith said, "I don't believe we can pass that people can't move."

Ms. Sims said she would like to see letters sent out informing parents of the school their children have been assigned to attend.

"It may cost some money," she said, "but I'm still saying that we owe it to our children to give them a little more consideration to the assignment first and then go into the policy."