Wake Ed

Wake County school board to review student transfer policy

Students crowd a stairway as classes change at Heritage High School in Wake Forest NC on Sept. 10, 2015. School officials say Heritage is overcrowded because it has a large number of transfer students, prompting calls for a review of the transfer policy.
Students crowd a stairway as classes change at Heritage High School in Wake Forest NC on Sept. 10, 2015. School officials say Heritage is overcrowded because it has a large number of transfer students, prompting calls for a review of the transfer policy. cseward@newsobserver.com

The Wake County school system could make it tougher for students to transfer into some schools for the 2016-17 school year.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the school board’s policy committee calls for reviewing the school admissions policy and the policy on school assignment and transfers. Board members had requested a review of the transfer policy after parents complained that their children’s schools were crowded because too many transfer students were being admitted.

The first draft of the 2016-17 student assignment plan had included a recommendation to reassign students from Heritage High School in Wake Forest to Rolesville High School. The moves were supposed to ease crowding at Heritage High and fill the under-enrolled Rolesville High.

But Heritage parents objected strongly to the proposal. Some parents contended that Heritage’s overcrowding was caused by the large number of transfer students and students accepted under the old choice plan.

Student assignment staff dropped the Heritage to Rolesville move from the second draft. Staff also agreed that the crowding was caused by the enrollment of transfer students. Board members said they needed to review the transfer policy in light of the concerns raised at Heritage.

Additionally in March, Superintendent Jim Merrill said the district should be tougher on approving late-spring transfer requests. Wake has an early transfer period in February and a later one in May.

“When it comes to student assignment and where students are enrolling, we are starting to shift – telling our board we cannot just leave the door open for folks to leave schools just because there may be seats somewhere else,” Merrill said. “We need to be concerned about the balance and the stability at the schools.”

Currently transfers can be approved for reasons such as health of a student, putting siblings on the same calendar, having a child attend the school where a parent is employed, access to childcare and access to special programs. Reasons for rejection include lack of a space at a school, particularly if it’s under an enrollment cap.

The policy committee is reviewing all policies because Wake is reformatting them to fit in with the numbering system used by the N.C. School Boards Association. The full board will adopt the newly renumbered policy, including any potential revisions made to the wording.

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