Walker County gives students a choice on school districts

Walker County gives students a choice on school districts

March 27th, 2013 by Katie Ward in Walker

Walker County School System Student Services Director Chris Chambers is letting citizens know the rules of moving students to a school out of their district. The Walker County Board of Education approved new guidelines and procedures for it at one of its most recent meetings.

Approved March 12 at Walker County Board of Education Planning Session:

• Walker County Schools student assignment guidelines

All children residing in Walker County are required to enroll in the school of the attendance area in which they reside. Attendance areas or school zones are designated by the Board of Education.

A parent or guardian may request to send a child to another school in Walker County as long as there is classroom space available at the school after its assigned students have been enrolled. If a parent or guardian is accepted to the selected school, the parent or guardian assumes all costs associated with transporting the child to and from the selected school. The district will not provide transportation for a student attending school outside his or her attendance area, unless the student is assigned to another school as a part of his or her Individual Education Program, or IEP.

The principal may deny admission to a non-resident student on the basis of overcrowding or sufficient cause.

• Procedure for those wishing to enroll in a different school than assigned

Any parent wishing to enter a child in a school other than the one to which the child would normally be assigned should make written application to the principal. Should a parent request admission to a school that does not have the services required by the current Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, or Individualized Accommodation Plan, or IAP, the school is not required to develop those services as long as they are available within the local school district.

Any student transferring schools shall be subject to the eligibility requirements of the Georgia High School Association.

The Out-of-District Contract states: said child must attend school and be on time by 7:45 a.m. each day and obey school rules. Said child shall attend school and be picked up on time by 4 p.m. each day. Said child shall attend school and have no more than six excused or unexcused absences and said child shall have no disciple referrals.

Beginning next school year, students can start the year out at the school of their choice, even if it's out of the district, with principal approval for the first time since school choice began a few years ago.

"As a former principal, I like to be able to accept students whose parents want them to transfer to your school," said Chambers, who formerly served as principal at Cherokee Ridge Elementary School. "The importance of good attendance, good behavior and being on time are all part of the enrollment agreement. If you don't uphold the enrollment agreement, then the student must go to the school he or she is zoned for instead."

When school choice first came into play a few years ago, Walker County Schools was apprehensive about completely opening up the choices, he said.

"We did not know how many students might take advantage of it," said Chambers. "We decided initially to say students should go to their zoned school and then see how it goes first before transferring during the school year. But it is important for students to start on the first day at their school."

Buses will not transport out-of-district students, but special education students will be accommodated, he noted.