by Nick Taborek :: Santa Monica Daily Press
April 03, 2010 -- SMMUSD HDQTRS — More kids who attend local public schools on inter-district permits could be allowed to stay put if the Los Angeles Unified School District board approves a proposal next week to modify the district's strict new permit policy.
In an attempt to net $51 million in extra state education funding, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines in February said the district would stop issuing permits to most students who live inside its boundaries but go to school in neighboring public school systems including the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
The policy shift was expected to require about 10,000 of the 12,250 students who receive out-of-district transfer permits from LAUSD to return to their home district. At SMMUSD, more than 1,200 students receive transfer permits from LAUSD.
Cortines had said the district would boost its enrollment by making it more difficult to get permission to transfer.
But under a proposal supported by two LAUSD board members, additional permits would be issued, decreasing the new policy's impact on districts like SMMUSD that stand to lose hundreds of students next school year.
The proposal, which will come before the panel for a vote on Tuesday, would grant additional permit exemptions in order to allow students entering 10th, 11th and 12th grades to keep their transfer permits and remain at their current high schools. Under Cortines' original plan, only high school students entering their senior year would have been allowed to remain at their out-of-district schools. (Cortines' plan also allows students entering 5th and 8th grades to remain at their current schools. Those exemptions would not be changed under the proposal before the school board.)
"It was our feeling that high school students should be allowed to finish their years at the school in which they're currently [enrolled]," said Tom Waldman, chief of staff for LAUSD board member Tamar Galatzan, who supports the measure.
SMMUSD Board President Barry Snell said the proposal doesn't go far enough.
"I'm happy to hear that there is some movement toward trying to limit it, but I think that all students should be allowed to complete their education at the school they're currently attending."
SMMUSD superintendent Tim Cuneo has said he supports grandfathering in all the district's students who receive transfer permits from LAUSD, as well as their siblings.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors endorsed a similar idea this week, approving a motion by Zev Yaroslavsky, who represents the Westside, urging Cortines to allow all students to continue receiving permits in order to complete their education at their current schools.
But Waldman said Galatzan isn't likely to support such a significant revision to the district's new permit policy.
"Right now this is as far as we'd like to go to expand it to high school students," he said. "Other than that we're supportive of the superintendent's policy."
Under Cortines' plan, students with a parent who works within the attendance boundary of their child's out-of-district school would still be allowed to receive transfer permits.
Students seeking the permits from LAUSD were allowed to apply through the district's Web site beginning April 1.
Ellen Morgan, an LAUSD spokeswoman, said the district plans to respond to permit requests within five business days of when applications are submitted, though that window could be extended.
Students whose applications are rejected are allowed to appeal decisions to LAUSD and then to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.