Need specific cites in the No Child Left Behind Act for school choice.
August 7, 2014 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I am in need of a Title 1 school choice transfer to get my child out of a really terrible school into a pretty decent one. The administration is giving me the runaround, so I'd like to find the specific section of the law that discusses it so I can print it out and cite it. I won't have the time to scan through the entire law before my meeting with them. Please help!

Specifically, what I'm looking for is the section on school choice, and the section where it points out that this is not optional - that districts have to do this, and do not have the option to not provide it based on district policies.

I am prepared to consult a lawyer if necessary, but would rather avoid it if the hivemind can help me find this and there's the possibility of good resolution.
posted by corb to Law & Government (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think this is an NCLB policy. Pretty sure the policy varies state-by-state, and some states let the districts set their own policies in intradistrict transfers.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:47 AM on August 7, 2014

This site should help you. It may be state specific, so select your state and it should tell you what your choices are.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:48 AM on August 7, 2014

Response by poster: Sorry, to clarify, this is a within-district transfer in the state of Washington, which just lost its ESEA flexibility transfer.
posted by corb at 8:50 AM on August 7, 2014

Here are the NCLB guidelines. The school has to meet certain criteria (underperforming; dangerous). Changing schools is not an across the board right
posted by mudpuppie at 8:51 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

With the ESEA Flexibility Waivers, states that have a waiver don't have to offer the school choice provision. You'll need to check the link Ruthless Bunny posted to see if your state offers it.

If your state doesn't have a waiver, then look here for the NCLB Guidance document.
posted by statsgirl at 8:52 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The section that provides for transfers out of underperforming schools appears to be Section 1116 (bolding mine):

(A) IDENTIFICATION- Subject to subparagraph (C), a local educational agency shall identify for school improvement any elementary school or secondary school served under this part that fails, for 2 consecutive years, to make adequate yearly progress as defined in the State's plan under section 1111(b)(2).

(B) DEADLINE- The identification described in subparagraph (A) shall take place before the beginning of the school year following such failure to make adequate yearly progress.

(C) APPLICATION- Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to a school if almost every student in each group specified in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(v) enrolled in such school is meeting or exceeding the State's proficient level of academic achievement.

(D) TARGETED ASSISTANCE SCHOOLS- To determine if an elementary school or a secondary school that is conducting a targeted assistance program under section 1115 should be identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring under this section, a local educational agency may choose to review the progress of only the students in the school who are served, or are eligible for services, under this part.

(i) IN GENERAL- In the case of a school identified for school improvement under this paragraph, the local educational agency shall, not later than the first day of the school year following such identification, provide all students enrolled in the school with the option to transfer to another public school served by the local educational agency, which may include a public charter school, that has not been identified for school improvement under this paragraph, unless such an option is prohibited by State law.

(ii) RULE- In providing students the option to transfer to another public school, the local educational agency shall give priority to the lowest achieving children from low-income families, as determined by the local educational agency for purposes of allocating funds to schools under section 1113(c)(1).
(F) TRANSFER- Students who use the option to transfer under subparagraph (E) and paragraph (5)(A), (7)(C)(i), or (8)(A)(i) or subsection (c)(10)(C)(vii) shall be enrolled in classes and other activities in the public school to which the students transfer in the same manner as all other children at the public school.
As has been noted by the folks above, though, your state may have a waiver, and there's plenty of caveats and exemptions.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:57 AM on August 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Washington state lost its waiver this year, so that part doesn't apply.
posted by KathrynT at 10:52 AM on August 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

The problem is that the law requires you to be given the choice to transfer to a non-failing school, but under the requirements of NCLB, nearly every school in Wasington state has been labelled failing. The estimates I've read have been ~90% of schools will be considered failing, though to my knowledge there isn't a comprehensive list yet. (In order to not be 'failing' a school would have to have met AYP for most students & groups every single year - a nearly impossible feat and the reason most people think NCLB is fundamentally broken - hence more than 40 states having NCLB waivers). So there may not actually be a school in your area that is an option, unless there happens to be a new school opening this year. Additionally, NCLB requires that by the end of this school year, schools will have to have met proficiency for *every single student* in order to not be considered failing - at which point most analysts think 100% of schools in the state will be labelled failing. So the district may not be giving you the run-around, exactly - most people in education don't know how exactly this will play out.

posted by leitmotif at 12:37 PM on August 7, 2014

Response by poster: So per the law, I have to be given the choice to transfer not to a non-failing school, but to a school that has not been labeled "In Need of Improvement" by failing for two years in a row. Since the waiver was lost this year, the failure should only be for this year for the school I have in mind, which was meeting AYP until this - thus it would not be labeled Needing Improvement for another year.
posted by corb at 1:21 PM on August 7, 2014

Hmm. I'm a teacher in Seattle, which has an ombudsman for (if I understand it correctly) exactly this purpose.

The other thing I'll say is that the pretty decent school you want to transfer your child to may be busting-at-the-seams full (as many better schools are due to conscientious parents like you wanting the best for their kid). So the administration giving you the run-around may actually have some reason for telling you you can't move your kid there.

Good luck to you and your kid.
posted by carterk at 9:32 PM on August 7, 2014

Response by poster: So after talking with the woman, she initially said something could be worked out, then a week later called me with a deputy superintendant on the line, who said it was impossible and the Washington State Title I coordinator had approved them not offering school choice even though they have a legally available school. They also tried saying that the school was full to fire capacity - but when I called the school and asked casually, I found out that was not the case.

Any ideas on where to go from here?
posted by corb at 9:30 AM on August 18, 2014

Have you tried the state education ombuds? I found them somewhat helpful.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:45 PM on August 20, 2014

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