APS to Fulton charter school: Stop poaching our students (See updates)

UPDATED May 18: Since I wrote about this a few months ago, APS has made good on its threat to sue to stop a Fulton County high school from poaching its students. The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, seeks a judge’s order to stop the practice of what Atlanta school officials call the systematic recruitment of students away from city schools.

According to the AJC:

The suit would affect about 100 Atlanta students enrolled at Riverwood International Charter School — which sits in Sandy Springs just over Atlanta’s northern boundary. At stake is state funding that follows students when they move from one public school to another.

“We want them to come into compliance with the law,” Atlanta schools spokesman Keith Bromery said.

Here is my original post on this issue:

Atlanta Public Schools is accusing Riverwood International Charter School, a Fulton County school, of recruiting North Atlanta High School, which it maintains violates state law.

It’s a fascinating letter and issue. Take a look at the March 1, 2010, complaint letter below from APS official Sharron M. Pitts, who is also an attorney, to Clara Keith of the DOE.

(The letter can be found on the North Atlanta High Website in the March 5th minutes from a “Coffee Talk” meeting. Those minutes also contain a discussion of the situation. )

Clara J. Keith, Deputy Superintendent, Policy & External Affairs

Georgia Department of Education

Dear Ms. Keith:

I am writing to bring to your attention the recruitment and enrollment practices of Riverwood International Charter School (“Riverwood”). It has come to my attention that approximately sixty of Riverwood’s current students are residents of the City of Atlanta and that they have recently accepted more Atlanta students.

By recruiting and enrolling Atlanta residents, Riverwood is violating Georgia law. The Atlanta Public Schools objects to Riverwood’s recruitment and enrollment practices and hereby formally requests that your office investigate the practices.

Riverwood is a conversion charter high school and the site of Fulton County’s International Studies Magnet Program. Riverwood is located in Sandy Springs, six miles from North Atlanta High School and three miles from Sutton Middle School.

Riverwood has recruited APS students from both Sutton Middle School and North Atlanta High School. Not only has Riverwood enrolled sixty of our students, but we also have specific information from parents who have reported their children being actively recruited by Riverwood.

For example, some parents of Sutton Middle School eighth graders submitted applications for their children to attend ninth grade at Riverwood for the 2009-2010 school year. These parents were assured that Atlanta residents could attend Riverwood for a fee and depending upon space considerations.

Initially, the applications were denied by Riverwood with the explanation that space limitations prevented the admission of out-of-district students. Consequently, these parents sent their children to North Atlanta High School. Then, after the 2009-2010 school year started, these parents were contacted by Riverwood personnel and advised that space was available at Riverwood. In one instance, a Riverwood employee left a parent a voice message saying she was “not sure” whether the family was happy at North Atlanta High School.

These practices are clear violations of Georgia law. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2066(a)(2), students who reside “outside the school system in which the local charter school is located may not enroll in that local charter school except pursuant to a contractual agreement between the local boards of the school system in which the student resides and the school system in which the local charter school is located.”

There is no such contractual agreement between the Atlanta Board of Education and the Fulton County Board of Education. Accordingly, it appears that Riverwood is improperly enrolling as many as sixty APS students, perhaps more. Without prompt action, that number is likely to grow because Riverwood has received applications from several families of this year’s eighth grade class at Sutton Middle School.

On October 1, 2009, we sent the attached complaint letter and affidavits to Mr. Andrew Broy. Mr. Broy facilitated a telephone conversation between Fulton County’s charter school liaison and their attorney and APS’ attorney and me.

During that conversation, Mr. Broy advised that since there was no existing agreement between the Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County, city of Atlanta students could not attend Riverwood Charter School pursuant to the law. Thus, despite the indisputable absence of the statutorily required agreement, Riverwood is continually violating Georgia law by enrolling Atlanta residents, and I am calling upon your office to put a stop to this illegal practice. We do not want either district to spend funds litigating this matter and believe that your intervention can resolve it without that recourse.

Additionally, I am calling on your office to examine Riverwood’s flagrant use of admissions criteria. According to information publicly provided by your office, “any student who resides in the school district in which the charter school is located and who submits a timely application may attend a charter school. If the number of applications exceeds the capacity of the school, all applicants will have an equal chance of being admitted through a random selection process or lottery… A charter school cannot have admission criteria.

While Riverwood purports to automatically admit all high school aged students residing in its primary attendance zone, it nevertheless imposes strict eligibility criteria for admission to its International Studies Magnet Program.

Nothing in Georgia’s Charter Schools Act of 1998, as amended, or the Department of Education’s Rules allows for this bifurcated process, which potentially allows Riverwood to exclude a general admission student in favor of admitting an International Studies student. For example, as mentioned above, several ninth grade students at North Atlanta High School were contacted after the 2009-2010 school year began. These students were informed of available spots at Riverwood.

Upon your investigation, I would be particularly interested to know (1) how many of the accepting APS students were eligible for the International Studies program, and (2) what steps did Riverwood take to determine that no other students from its primary and secondary attendance zones (i.e., Fulton County) wanted to attend Riverwood before the APS students were contacted.

Finally, as APS has already reported to the Georgia High School Association (“GHSA”), we believe that Riverwood’s recruiting practices also violate both the letter and spirit of the GHSA’s Constitution and By-laws. Not only do we suspect that Riverwood is recruiting some of our academically excellent students, we also suspect Riverwood is recruiting some of our talented student athletes. I trust your office will work in concert with GHSA to examine these practices as well.

We believe that it is important to provide the city’s residents with choice, and we provide a wide variety of traditional and charter school options for them. We also believe that all local school systems must adhere to the same rules and standards, and that complying with the law is an important part of giving citizens confidence in our government institutions. It is in that spirit that this complaint is filed..

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or require additional information.

Sincerely,

Sharron M. Pitts

71 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 10th, 2010
11:52 am

Same goes for students in Dunwoody – there are quite a number of Dunwoody students at Riverwood.

just wondering

March 10th, 2010
11:54 am

…spare me, I thought North Atlanta was the “crown jewel” of APS high schools….

Dunwoody Mom

March 10th, 2010
11:58 am

Maybe this is how Riverwood was able to raise their graduation rate so quickly?

Larry M

March 10th, 2010
12:21 pm

God forbid APS has to actually compete with other schools in order to retain students. Does anyone see what is wrong with this picture? True improvement in public education will not happen in this country until the MONEY follows the STUDENT.

Louie @ Busy Bee's

March 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

So now Atlanta wants to go by the law. I don’t blame Atlanta for being mad. But, how about going by the law in other areas? I remember in the 1980s when Atlanta poached many students from DeKalb for the so-called “Carver Story.” Heck, it seems like a very significant proportion of the students from the old Carver were from DeKalb. There’s no telling how many students from Clayton County in those days attended Douglass High when Lester Butts was the principal there. Douglass had such a good reputation that parents from Clayton County took their children to Douglass on their way to work. Well, I don’t blame Ms. Pitts for sending the letter. But, consistency…thou art a jewel.

teacher/parent

March 10th, 2010
12:38 pm

If it’s illegal, then it should stop. However, maybe you should spend more time worrying why Riverwood is a more appealing option to those students and parents. Not every school can be an IB school. Is it right to deny students the opportunity to attend that program if that is their choice?

An Opinion

March 10th, 2010
12:48 pm

Charter schools should be able to recruit students. Many parents don’t even know of very good charter schools they may be able to send there children to even in their own districts. APS and other systems actively exclude them from school fairs and tours. Let schools compete for students- not just their money- then perhaps ALL schools and the education of our children will improve. I am speaking from experience. I have a child in a conventional public high school and another charter high school.

Attentive Parent

March 10th, 2010
1:12 pm

This clearly illustrates that the APS’ philosophy is that students exist primarily to be a source of funds.

APS is clearly not primarily about the educational needs of the students. Especially if they are good students.

They have an obligation to stay put and help raise their high school’s average SAT score to use in promotional materials.

How desperate for escape must these APS students be if they’re willing to pay the state reimbursement amount of several thousand dollars to attend a different district’s school?

Just a Thought

March 10th, 2010
1:47 pm

I think an underlying issue is that athletes are being recruited. I understand school choice but to recruit students for athletic purposes is out right wrong. Let’s keep it real. Schools want to recruit athletes so they can win and their programs can make more money. It seems that if APS felt strongly enough to file a formal complaint it must be a growing problem.

What I still don’t get is why not support the local school (BOE and all other stakeholders) and create a “charter school” environment there? I think it is wrong if local resources “follow” students out of the communities from which those resources are flowing from. I was always taught that you don’t run from your problems. If your community school is broken…..man up (or woman up) and fix it!

Flash

March 10th, 2010
2:08 pm

Tough call but parents want their kids to receive a quality education.

DeKalb Conservative

March 10th, 2010
2:25 pm

Why isn’t anyone asking the question “why are parents / students flocking to this school?”

Now might be a good time to do that.

Attentive Parent

March 10th, 2010
2:35 pm

Absolutely- supporting the local school as an institution is more important than your child’s future.

Dear son or daughter,

You are not my highest priority. In fact you exist primarily to make the world a better place. Even if the local school cannot or will not meet your academic or social needs, never forget that your mere presence will help start the process of rebuilding.

Institutions are more important than individual children. Hopefully we can find other parents who are equally willing to ignore their child’s dreams and capabilities and will unselfishly sacrifice their potential futures.

Don’t be surprised if the confused child doesn’t feel loved at all by such priorities.

what's right for kids???

March 10th, 2010
2:37 pm

I’m not so sure that it SHOULD be illegal. I don’t think that students should pigeonholed into their community school if there is a school out of district that better meets their needs. Having the money follow the students is not really a bad idea. Some of the benefits are:
Schools would be run more like businesses and good ones would stay open.
Parents would take a more active role in their children’s education because they would choose the school, allowing more ownership.
Students could attend schools that meet their needs.
Transportation costs would be a thing of the past.

An advocate for public education change & choice

March 10th, 2010
2:48 pm

There was a bill in the GA legislature last session which attempted to revise public policy to allow families the ability to “shop” for the best educational experience for their children across district lines. Althought it passed, as you might expect it was watered down significantly in the process to only allow intra-district movement which was subsequently watered down further as districts across the state were left to write their own rules to govern the movement.

Larry M & An Opinion are dead on the money with their observations. The sooner we all for real competition in public education arena the sooner we will see every system across the state get serious about the academic outcomes. Until then, all we will get are these carefully crafted press releases from school districts moaning more about the money they stand to lose because a student goes to a school out of district than they do what such a move would provide for the academic achievement of the student.

Given the current economic climate expect that this is only the tip of the iceburg.

An advocate for public education change & choice

March 10th, 2010
2:56 pm

@ Just A Thought: Why is the concept of recruiting athletes at the high school level so wrong? We accept it with open arms at the college level.

I figure if a student can better positioned for an opportunity at post-secondary placement by playing ball for an APS school vs Fulton County one then doesn’t that fit into the mold of free market competition?

Fact, the local option for many is a quality option. And unnecessary politics within local systems control the flow of reasources such that some portions of the district get more attention than others. Again for me I don’t see anything wrong with tax revenue for school funding flowing across district lines with the student and allowing families to deside for themselves what academic situation works best for their child.

Just a Thought

March 10th, 2010
3:06 pm

Here is my point. Education is the responsibility of the community. If everyone is going outside of their community then we might as well get rid of all local control and let the state or national government take over.

Everyone is saying the community school is not meeting needs. What I am asking is….so what have you done or what will you do to improve it? One reason the national trend is towards less local control is because to a large extent….the communities have abdicated responsibility for educating their children.

Education is not a business. I detest such comparisons. Businesses are for monetary profit and deal in goods and services. Education deals with families, communities, and society in general. Not the same thing.

zoe

March 10th, 2010
3:25 pm

Teacher/parent: Riverwood and North Atlanta are both IB schools. Riverwood probably needed kids to fill sections of IB/pre-IB classes and looked at North Atlanta as a good recruiting ground. It can be hard to fill sections and the state changed the minimum number of students needed in a class for a school to claim money from the state. Otherwise the system either had to pay for the class or dissolve it. IB classes/programs are hard to fill, many kids get into the program and realize what kind of commitment the classes take (much more than AP, look at the IB passrates (much lower than AP) and see what kinds of IB tests they have to pass to get college credit (all essay, no multiple choice)

An advocate for public education change & choice

March 10th, 2010
3:26 pm

@ Just A Thought: In the context of our discussion allow a parent to take put their tax dollars to work where they see the most benefit is bad thing? If I follow your logic, if the board of local control gerrymanders school zones and disportionately allocates resources then the underserved should be left to just take it with no option? Lets face it money moves politics and accept it or reject it there is a ton of poltiical wrangling in virtually every local school board I’ve come across the metro area.

I hate to be the one to break this to you but when you’re managing the hundreds of millions of dollars in resources guess what?? You’re running a business !! In this particular case I would suggest those that have been the caretakers of the public trust have lost sight of the objective of the business which is to produce quality academic outcomes for the students. To the extent local systems across the metro area are not doing that, they are losing students to other districts. And it will continue to happen.

APS Parent

March 10th, 2010
3:30 pm

I am a districted N. Atlanta parent who picked a private school over N. Atlanta, and because of economics will be attending Riverwood next year. I fail to see the issue. Riverwood offers a superior academic experience and given the lack of stability among the administration, staff and coaches at N. Atlanta, why would I send my child there?
Riverwood’s academics are among the best in the state, the offer a wide variety of programs including the IB program, and field several quality sports programs. Maybe N. Atlanta should be more concerned about fixing what is wrong with them?
As for the Dunwoody parents, you school is filed with students from all corners of DeKalb, and if memory serves me correctly you too were accused of recruiting issues with some of you athletic teams a few years back.
Don’t complain about what others are doing, fix what’s wrong in your school and reap the rewards.

AlreadySheared

March 10th, 2010
3:44 pm

@just wondering:
AP-test-score-wise, North Atlanta isn’t even close to being the crown jewel of APS – that would be Grady High School.

AP test scores have disappeared from the 2008-2009 school report cards, here are the AP results from 2007 – 2008

Atlanta Public Schools overall
http://reportcard2008.gaosa.org/(S(urp4lb55ejadilagakq5j4rc))/k12/reports.aspX?ID=761:ALL&TestKey=AP&TestType=st9

Students Taking/Tests Taken/Passing Grades earned = 606 / 903 / 244

Grady High
http://reportcard2008.gaosa.org/(S(q52kax454sk0qd55f2raoo55))/k12/reports.aspX?ID=761:4560&TestKey=AP&TestType=st9

Students Taking/Tests Taken/Passing Grades earned = 195 / 363 / 175
Translation – 70% of ALL the passing AP scores in Atlanta Public Schools are earned @ Grady

North Atlanta
http://reportcard2008.gaosa.org/(S(mnxabf550×5kzr45kxhyarif))/k12/reports.aspX?ID=761:192&TestKey=AP&TestType=st9
Students Taking/Tests Taken/Passing Grades earned = 44 / 56 / 10
Translation – not so much

WE know that all kinds of good stuff is going on in the Grady cluster – I’d put
Morningside Elementary / Inman Middle / Grady High up against any public elementary/middle/high school progression you care to name.

AlreadySheared

March 10th, 2010
3:45 pm

the filter ate my homework?

Write Your Board Members

March 10th, 2010
3:46 pm

Interesting. They are using the fact that they are a charter school to go after them.

Happy Riverwood Parent

March 10th, 2010
6:42 pm

Ms. Pitts needs to get her facts straight. To be admitted to Riverwood from outside the district, you need to apply to the school under the charter. If there are more applications than spots available, siblings are taken first and then remaining slots are awarded to students through a lottery system (totally random–luck of the draw).

If you want to be in the international magnet program (a program within the school), you also need to complete an international magnet application (no matter where you live). To be accepted into the international magnet program you must be a registered student, with a B average and good test scores. It is a more rigorous academic program with foreign language requirements,and not right for everyone. It is also a prerequisite to the IB program.

Finally, Riverwood doesn’t need to recruit. If you visit the school and walk down the halls, if you speak to the students or talk to a parent, if you attend a drama performance, or athletic event — you will see that there are special things going on at Riverwood International Charter School.

RobertNAtl

March 10th, 2010
7:26 pm

In this era of budget cuts, Sharron Pitts has now self-identified as an administrator who can be eliminated without any downside at all.

APS Parent

March 10th, 2010
8:24 pm

Happy Riverwood Parent is correct. There is no “admission criteria” to get in to Riverwood, but there is an application to get into the IB program once you are enrolled in Riverwood. Ms. Pitts is simply making a bad situation for her school worse by showing everyone how little she knows.

ScienceTeacher671

March 10th, 2010
8:29 pm

On reading the Georgia constitution, it seems pretty clear to me that paying for education is the responsibility of the state. Unfortunately, many educational expenses get passed down to the county and district level, and that is being exascerbated by the state’s current financial problems.

Many counties don’t allow out-of-district students at all. Sometimes they don’t have room, and frequently they don’t want their taxpayers shouldering the expense of students from out of county. While that doesn’t seem to be the case here, it seems to me that before we have “the money following the child”, the state ought to pay the entire cost of the child, not just some fraction of the cost (which would also eliminate the gross funding disparities across our state).

We need to also recognize that some costs, such as buildings, utilities, transportation, etc., are relatively fixed and a few more students more or less generally won’t change these costs significantly, if at all.

Please

March 10th, 2010
9:30 pm

APS objecting to someone violating the law carries about as much weight as Paris Hilton objecting to someone acting tawdry.

They’re probably just mad someone took all the erasers with them.

KPerspective

March 10th, 2010
9:56 pm

I think Riverwood’s out-of-district acceptance policy could be compared to that of a private school. We don’t see Pitts sending letters to Lovett or Westminster complaining that they are stealing “APS students.” Though a student may live within the APS district, it is the right of a family to send their student to another school, provided tuition is accounted for. Thus, in that case they are not “APS students.” Similarly, families choosing Riverwood are in fact paying extra tuition money, while not abandoning local tax payments to APS, just as any private school family does. Pitts seems mainly upset because Riverwood is a public school. However, it is “private” to those out-of-district, in the sense that it has tuition, specific entry requirements, and no transportation to and from those non-district areas. Families are making personal sacrifices of money and long school commutes to Riverwood in order to improve their child’s education. Perhaps they would not have to do this if APS improved its schools, for it is just cowardly to try and force students back by law. She should instead focus her time on improving APS schools and compel these families to send their kids back in district, rather than author bitter letters about a well-meaning school that is clearly a cut above APS.

James

March 11th, 2010
8:46 am

@Attentive Parent – I love your comment. It made my day :)

zoe

March 11th, 2010
11:39 am

Already Sheared, North Atlanta is an IB school- do the kids at NA take IB exams or AP exams or both? If they take IB and not AP, the school’s scores don’t show up on the school report cards. It is hard to compare Grady and North Atlanta without the IB scores being released. Has anyone seen them?

AlreadySheared

March 11th, 2010
1:24 pm

@zoe:
I was bragging on Grady, don’t know about North Atlanta IB.
My understanding is that Advanced Placement classes and passing scores tests are viewed favorably by college admissions folks and passing scores can sometimes enable students to exempt some college classes.

I am don’t know about the IB (International Baccalaureate?) program. Don’t know if IB and AP are mutually exclusive or complementary.

zoe

March 11th, 2010
4:03 pm

For the differences between AP and IB – Check out Jay Mathews and his Get Schooled Column in the Washington Post. He is obsessed with AP and IB. IB is basically an international version of AP. Students can earn college credit for passing IB exams, just like they can earn college credit for passing AP exams. The problem with IB is that it takes a lot of dedication and kids enroll in the program as 9th and 10th graders, see how much is required and then drop out of the program. I can see why North Atlanta is concerned. If kids in the North Atlanta district are at Riverwood taking the exact same classes they would at North Atlanta, that is pulling down North Atlanta IB numbers. IB classes are usually small anyway but this year, the state told schools/systems it would not pay for classes that had below a certain number of kids. I know that hit me hard because I teach AP and they wouldn’t let anyone out of my class even if they were failing because of the FTE count. In the past, our system had picked up the cost of small classes, even for AP classes with 8 or 9 kids. Not this year. We had to dissolve those super small classes and put the kids in other classes. This thing with Riverwood was probably not a big deal until APS started putting pressure on the school about class size and class numbers – telling them they couldn’t have small IB classes- just my opinion.

Real North Atlanta Parent

March 14th, 2010
3:20 pm

As the parent of both a current senior at North Atlanta High and a future student, I am pleased that Atlanta Public Schools is continuing to support our community schools by calling attention to illegal practices which harm both APS and Fulton County families.

First, some facts. KPerspective, Riverwood is not a private school; it has the obligation to educate all students in its service zone without preferential treatment. AlreadySheared, you are right; Grady is also a wonderful school, and we take pride in everything your students are achieving. However, comparing AP scores is not quite fair because, with the oldest IB-authorized Diploma Programme in the Southeast, North Atlanta students generally take the more difficult IB courses and exams instead of APs. APs are accepted for college credit in the US under some circumstances, but the IB Diploma grants my child not just a few extra credits, but also full admission to virtually any university in the world with the same privileges as a citizen of that country. Attentive Parent, I resent the implication that any parent who supports their local school is sacrificing their child’s welfare. We chose NAHS after careful research, visits to each school, public (including Riverwood) and private, interviews with faculty and administrators, and “shadow days” for our child. We settled on North Atlanta because we felt it offered the best combination of high-quality education, individual attention to our child’s needs and abilities, community involvement, and a perspective on the world which would best prepare our child for her future. As a senior, she is now fluent in a second language, captain of a sports team, running a charity event for an international nonprofit, accepted at top-tier colleges, and the recipient of multiple scholarship offers. We have not sacrificed our child’s education for a principle: on the contrary, we have benefitted more than we ever dreamed possible, thanks in part to other NAHS families who share our values and commitment to all our students.

Riverwood’s actions are not about money or about choice. Parents have the right to choose their children’s public school by moving to the appropriate district, or choosing a private school by applying and paying tuition. When Riverwood elected to become a charter school, it agreed to abide by the terms of its charter and by State law. The school’s actions are not only illegal (and what kind of example does such disregard for the law provide for the students?), they also harm every Fulton County student who is denied admission to Riverwood and every APS student who is misled into believing they can legally change schools or play sports at Riverwood. We understand Riverwood is denying admission to students in its own county while recruiting students from APS, which violates Fulton County Schools’ legal and moral obligation to educate its own students. There are many complex legal principles involved here, but the point is that Fulton County should be serving its own students rather than improving its statistics by making unrealistic promises to Atlanta residents.

SMS Parent

March 15th, 2010
9:09 am

Thank you, Real North Atlanta Parent! Well said.

Proud North Atlanta Parent

March 15th, 2010
11:59 am

Ditto to Real North Atlanta Parent. The most outrageous comment on this blog is from so-called Attentive Parent. The idea that I have sacrificed my child’s welfare is absurd and insulting. As true attentive parents, we considered a private school option and visited Riverwood, but we also took the time to LEARN about North Atlanta rather than simply read statistics and rely on hearsay. We could not be happier with our decision. Our child is receiving a world-class education at North Atlanta in an atmosphere that is both demanding and supportive. Our child is participating in extra-curricular activities and sports programs that are well-run, rewarding and focused on character and athletic development. We know because we are there. I am thrilled that Riverwood exists as a quality public option for Fulton County district students just as I am thrilled that North Atlanta (and Grady) exist as a quality public option for APS students. It is time for this entire dispute to be resolved once and for all by those who are charged with enforcing the rules.

APS Grad, Proud NAHS Parent

March 15th, 2010
12:09 pm

Amen and Amen to Real North Atlanta Parent. Perfectly describes the situation.

I am another real North Atlanta parent, with a second child at Sutton who will be following his sibling’s path in a couple of years. To all Riverwood parents and fans on the blog — I’m glad you’re proud of your school — that’s as it should be. We’re proud of North Atlanta as well, and for good reason. The curriculum is rigorous, we have a fantastic principal, our athletic programs are growing, the opportunities that IB affords are fantastic, the arts curriculum produces impressive results, and our kids are earning tens of millions of dollars in college scholarships. I’m thrilled that our students are getting a great education in a diverse environment that reflects the wider world they will soon be entering.

To all those pounding the rhetorical drum of “choice” — puleeze. Parents in the North Atlanta district continue to have ample choices — as they have always had. I graduated from Dykes High many decades ago, and saw first hand the hundreds of parents who CHOSE to abandon that school because of their fear of a desegregated faculty. That’s why it closed in 1973. Now, like then, families in this district have plenty of choices — none of the many private schools in our area appear to be closing their doors.

The issue with Riverwood is this — they are a publicly funded school and they are violating the law, pure and simple. If you don’t like the Charter School statute, and think a public charter school should be able to recruit and cherry pick the students they want from another district — then change the law. Riverwood could continue to accept students from N. Atlanta if they entered into an agreement with APS — they have chosen not to even propose one. If you think it’s OK to recruit athletes in this same way, then you’ll need to change the GHSA provisions — because those are being violated as well. And yes, friends, Riverwood coaches have been known to scout athletes at many a Sutton game — if that’s not recruiting, I don’t know what it is.

As an Atlanta native and an APS graduate, I find it incredibly exciting that, for the first time in half a century, we will soon be building the first entirely new high school north of Grady. At long last, the pendulum has swung back for schools in our community, and everyone should applaud that.

I commend Riverwood accomplishments and hope they continue. But they should stop breaking the law in ways that could hinder our success at North Atlanta.

North Atlanta Student

March 15th, 2010
9:25 pm

teacher/parent – i am a student at North Atlanta and I am in the IB program at North Atlanta High School, NAHS does have the IB program one fo the top programs in the nation, as reported by news week.

When it comes to athletics the above is very true. My 8th grade year at Sutton Middle School, Riverwood called and tried to get me to come and play baseball there. I declined and I am happy with my decision. Also many of my classmates received calls this past year from Riverwood saying they had open slots and would like for the NAHS students to go to Riverwood. All o them declined because we love North Atlanta, its a great school with great teachers.

sharyn

March 15th, 2010
11:08 pm

I am a proud parent of a current APS student (elementary) and a future student (ok, he’s only two). I have watched with pride and awe the amazing strides and progress ALL APS schools have taken, particularly Sutton Middle School and NAHS (no disrespect to Inman or Grady – both great schools, I just know more about my district). I have the option and means if I wanted to send my children to private schools and I have actively chosen to pursue a public education for my children. And I know they are getting the very best education available to them.

I completely resent the implications and particularly the snarky tone of some parents (@ attentive parent – this is directed to you) that somehow I am sacrificing my children’s future to make some PC choice. How dare you? Who do you think you are? Have you actually examined the schools which my child(ren) attend? You can do what you think is right for you and your children (including teaching them whatever values you think you’re teaching them) and I’ll teach mine what I see fit – including that the public schools, when they work, as I feel ours do – provide every advantage and benefit they will need.

I also would like to publicly thank the parents who went before me and put their faith in the APS system to make it what it is today. I know it has been a long process, but your efforts have paid off. I am very proud today and will continue to be proud over the next 20 years, I am sure!

Another very happy North Atlanta mom

March 16th, 2010
1:19 pm

I, too, have chosen North Atlanta for my children. Or rather, they have chosen it for themselves over other options, private schools included. In our case, it was a matter of North Atlanta’s academic rigor. For those who are looking at this issue from the outside, I can see why people would assume that students choose Riverwood for academic reasons, but from my experience, students choose RIverwood for social reasons. The students who are looking for a more active social life, go to Riverwood. Those wanting the excellence of a great, all encompassing IB curriculum, go to North Atlanta. That is not to say that North Atlanta does not have abundant social opportunities. They are just not like Riverwood’s.

KPerspective

March 17th, 2010
9:24 pm

I admit, I am a student at Riverwood, and know several students who attend my school from the NAHS district. Most are extremely happy at Riverwood. I’d ask that you please leave them alone, and let me explain why:

APS is still getting local taxes from these families. Just not the high test scores. So from my point of view, as a student, it would appear that APS just wants these kids back to boost their faltering test scores, but is cleverly masking it as a matter of “community loyalty” and “unfair practices.” Anyone reading this letter can see that is is truly a matter of statistics. As a current high school student, it bothers me that the underlying motive for most of this is just test scores and public perception. I care about my future, not my school’s average test scores. And if these kids feel like their future is in better hands at Riverwood, then APS should leave them alone, because it is clear that NAHS is doing something to incline families to accept Riverwood’s offer.

Yet if all these NAHS advocates (above) are right, then it would appear that their school is doing just fine without the kids who left, right? Clearly, that is not the case, as students are leaving APS for Riverwood to begin with. If APS truly cared about these students, they would leave them the choice, and do something to improve their own school. In fact, this wouldn’t even be an issue if North Atlanta was on par with Riverwood, because the prospect of leaving the district would in that case be impractical. One may argue that NAHS is just as good of a school, but if that were the case, from a statistical standpoint, that would invalidate any practical motives for an APS argument in the first place. But since NAHS is in fact making an argument, they are in effect confessing their inferiority, and indirectly expressing a personal desire for these students.

What bothers me is APS is willing to put school statistics ahead of student choice. Though anyone can attempt to make an argument otherwise, the truth is quite apparent: NAHS wants to improve its image, and desperately needs these intelligent students (who have left for Riverwood) to come back and raise these measures of outward image (SAT scores, AP/IB, etc).

People just need to admit to themselves what’s truly important to these school systems. Therein may lie a deeper issue, that school systems are perhaps focusing more on the public’s perception when they should be concerned primarily about students. And by threatening to force these successful Riverwood students back to their evidently inferior home school, APS has only demonstrated that these students are nothing more than statistics to them, and NAHS is immune to the missed opportunities some kids may face in leaving. I’m a student, and I have no problem saying that students are what matter most, because school systems exist solely and primarily for our education. So APS should stop pulling out arguments that have nothing to do with education. Because I know if they thought about it, they’d realize that kids are coming to Riverwood for a superior education, and NAHS should follow its example, thus improving both schools and all students in the long run. But their current selfish cowardice will make for a circular conflict rooted in superficial matters, taking the focus off what really matters: the education.
Thank you.

APS Mom

March 18th, 2010
3:48 pm

If Riverwood is so great, why do they have to recruit from APS? Why can’t they fill up their school with students from Sandy Springs? Oh that’s right, they’re in private schools.

School Observer

March 21st, 2010
1:19 am

Enter your comments here

School Parent

March 21st, 2010
2:24 am

Enter your comments here

APS Parent

March 21st, 2010
2:35 am

Enter your comments here

Concerned Parent

March 21st, 2010
12:14 pm

First, I just have tell KPerspective that you need to seriously consider a career in law. Your arguments are thoughtful, well organized and well written. Would have never thought you were merely a high school student.

In addition, one thing all of these comments are ignoring is that the APS complaint concerns merely 60 students. That’s it! We are only talking about 60 kids spread out among grades 9-12. To think that APS is so hyper-focused on such a small group of students in the big scheme of things is crazy to me. Let’s not forget that APS gets to keep the tax dollars that are generated by these 60 families WITHOUT having to provide any services to these families. On some level, I would think APS would be ecstatic about that during these tough economic times. It seems like every other day I am reading about how APS (as well as its fellow metro school districts) is $47 million dollars in deficit for the next school year. So, why doesn’t APS take the tax revenues from those 60 families that have left the system and pour it into NAHS to make a positive difference??
As an APS taxpayer, I am also personally offended by the notion that my tax dollars are being spent on complaints and/or legal documents regarding 15 8th grade kids that choose to attend high school in a different venue. There are so many other really important issues we should be dealing with.

One other point is that Sharon Pitt’s complaint is based on a flawed premise. APS appears to assume that these 60 families would automatically go to NAHS for high school if you eliminated the Riverwood option. WRONG!! There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this. In fact, the opposite is true. These families have already shown a willingness to pay tuition rather than attend NAHS. So, it follows that even if you eliminate the Riverwood option, these same talented and athletic kids would most likely pay tuition at one of the many other private schools in the Atlanta area. Some might go to NAHS but not enough to worry about and certainly not enough to bother arguing about with the DOE or in a court of law.

As a parent of children that have explored the Riverwood option, I have to categorically state that there was NO recruiting going on. Riverwood merely provides information about their program and then it is up to each family to make a decision. Trust me, we were NOT offered any fancy dinners or free cars when my sons looked into Riverwood. That whole concept is preposterous!

So, come on people. Let’s keep this in perspective. It is already bad enough that APS is having to spend my tax dollars to hire private consultants to investigate CRCT cheating allegations. For once, I would like to see my local school system be smart and spend our money wisely. And let’s ask ourselves this question—how can we, on the one hand, spend any money disputing 15 kids going to another high school each year when, on the other hand, we are telling our current wonderful APS teachers that they will not get pay raises next year, may face furloughs and will have to deal with increased class size without extras support staff?? That is just not smart. It is time for NAHS to move on. By filing this complaint, they make themselves look childish, selfish and petty. As an APS parent, I had higher expectations of them.

Concerned Parent

March 21st, 2010
12:17 pm

First, I just have tell KPerspective that you need to seriously consider a career in law. Your arguments are thoughtful, well organized and well written. Would have never thought you were merely a high school student.

In addition, one thing all of these comments are ignoring is that the APS complaint concerns merely 60 students. That’s it! We are only talking about 60 kids spread out among grades 9-12. To think that APS is so hyper-focused on such a small group of students in the big scheme of things is crazy to me. Let’s not forget that APS gets to keep the tax dollars that are generated by these 60 families WITHOUT having to provide any services to these families. On some level, I would think APS would be ecstatic about that during these tough economic times. It seems like every other day I am reading about how APS (as well as its fellow metro school districts) is $47 million dollars in deficit for the next school year. So, why doesn’t APS take the tax revenues from those 60 families that have left the system and pour it into NAHS to make a positive difference??
As an APS taxpayer, I am also personally offended by the notion that my tax dollars are being spent on complaints and/or legal documents regarding 15 8th grade kids that choose to attend high school in a different venue. There are so many other really important issues we should be dealing with.

Concerned Parent

March 21st, 2010
12:19 pm

First, I just have tell Kperspective that you need to seriously consider a career in law. Your arguments are thoughtful, well organized and well written. Would have never thought you were merely a high school student.
In addition, one thing all of these comments are ignoring is that the APS complaint concerns merely 60 students. That’s it! We are only talking about 60 kids spread out among grades 9-12. To think that APS is so hyper-focused on such a small group of students in the big scheme of things is crazy to me. Let’s not forget that APS gets to keep the tax dollars that are generated by these 60 families WITHOUT having to provide any services to these families. On some level, I would think APS would be ecstatic about that during these tough economic times. It seems like every other day I am reading about how APS (as well as its fellow metro school districts) is $47 million dollars in deficit for the next school year. So, why doesn’t APS take the tax revenues from those 60 families that have left the system and pour it into NAHS to make a positive difference??
As an APS taxpayer, I am also personally offended by the notion that my tax dollars are being spent on complaints and/or legal documents regarding 15 8th grade kids that choose to attend high school in a different venue. There are so many other really important issues we should be dealing with.

Concerned Parent

March 21st, 2010
12:21 pm

I just have tell KPerspective that you need to seriously consider a career in law. Your arguments are thoughtful, well organized and well written. Would have never thought you were merely a high school student.

School Observer

March 21st, 2010
12:25 pm

One thing all of these comments are ignoring is that the APS complaint concerns merely 60 students. That’s it! We are only talking about 60 kids spread out among grades 9-12. To think that APS is so hyper-focused on such a small group of students in the big scheme of things is crazy to me. Let’s not forget that APS gets to keep the tax dollars that are generated by these 60 families WITHOUT having to provide any services to these families. On some level, I would think APS would be ecstatic about that during these tough economic times. It seems like every other day I am reading about how APS (as well as its fellow metro school districts) is $47 million dollars in deficit for the next school year. As an APS taxpayer, I am also personally offended by the notion that my tax dollars are being spent on complaints and/or legal documents regarding 15 8th grade kids that choose to attend high school in a different venue. There are so many other really important issues we should be dealing with.

Concerned Parent

March 21st, 2010
12:33 pm

One other point is that Sharon Pitt’s complaint is based on a flawed premise. APS appears to assume that these 60 families would automatically go to NAHS for high school if you eliminated the Riverwood option. WRONG!! There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this. In fact, the opposite is true. These families have already shown a willingness to pay tuition rather than attend NAHS. So, it follows that even if you eliminate the Riverwood option, these same talented and athletic kids would most likely pay tuition at one of the many other private schools in the Atlanta area. Some might go to NAHS but not enough to worry about and certainly not enough to bother arguing about with the DOE or in a court of law. Also, as a parent of children that have explored the Riverwood option, I have to categorically state that there is NO recruiting going on. Riverwood merely provides information about their program and then it is up to each family to make a decision. Trust me, we were NOT offered any fancy dinners or free cars when my sons looked into Riverwood. That whole concept is preposterous!