The Gwinnett school board decision to move students out of the Peachtree Ridge cluster — which has some of county’s most affluent areas — has ed a group of parents to file federal civil rights complaints.
I still wonder if open enrollment isn’t the answer in most counties. I think public school choice would go a long way to appeasing parents.
l talked yesterday to a father from another county who wanted his child to attend the public school a mile from the family business so he and his wife could pick her up and bring her back to the shop in the afternoons. (They both work every day in the shop.)
Instead, the county was holding firm that the family had to send the girl to the school nearest their home, but 18 miles from the shop.
As a taxpayer with a home and business in the school district, the dad couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get approval to send his daughter to a different school within the system. I told him that most schools are zoned by community and that the community gets first dibs on seats in the school.
He thought it was wrong that he pays the same taxes as everyone else in the county, yet couldn’t send his daughter to the local school of his choice. Nor could he understand the hostility with which his request was being met by the central office.
Two complaints were filed with the federal Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging that Gwinnett Schools is discriminating against the kids by rerouting them to campuses with fewer resources and more students from lower income homes.
About 505 students will move to empty seats in Duluth schools in August. The school board approved the moves last week, saying they will relieve overcrowding.
“The Board of Education and its planning department selected a group of minority children of low socio-economic status to move from a more affluent school district to an already overburdened one under the guise of saying they were trying to reduce overcrowding,” said Lynne Sycamore, a Duluth mom who is among a handful of parents who filed the complaints.
“Most of the children they selected came out of Mason Elementary, which is already under capacity,” she said.
Nearly half of the affected students — 241 — are being moved from Mason Elementary, which is under capacity by 13. Peachtree Ridge High, a school of 3,226 that is over capacity by 426, will lose 158 teens. Hull Middle School, which has 2,409 students, is over capacity by 659 and will lose 106 students.
Gwinnett Schools’ spokeswoman Sloan Roach said the district has not been notified of the complaint.
Students are redistricted based on population figures, said school board member Mary Kay Murphy.
“We don’t use socio-economics,” she said. “Our core belief as a school system is that all students can learn at or above grade level. We would not have received the Broad Prize for closing the achievement gap if we weren’t serving all populations.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog