12/17/2010 - Today is the deadline for nearly a half-million Los Angeles Unified parents to take advantage of a little-known federal program that allows students at low-performing schools to transfer to a better campus.
More than 400,000 LAUSD students are eligible for the federal "Public School Choice" program, established under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Under the program, students at Program Improvement schools - those that have missed federal academic benchmarks for at least two consecutive years - can apply for a transfer to any other district campus that has available space.
Despite the obvious benefits of this program, fewer than 1 percent of the eligible LAUSD students took advantage of the program last year.
In an effort to give more students an opportunity for academic success, a group of community organizations and LAUSD board members have come together to promote the program.
"Parents with children in Program Improvement schools need to know that they have options," said Oscar Cruz, vice president of Families In Schools, a non-profit agency that promotes parental involvement.
"LAUSD and Families in Schools are working together to ensure that parents understand that they have options, which can have an enormous impact on their children's future," added Cruz.
Other than applying for a spot at a magnet campus, most LAUSD parents have few alternatives to their neighborhood schools. And many are unaware of the federal school choice program.
"Knowledge is power for parents, too," said Monica Garcia, president of the LAUSD board. "All parents have the right and responsibility to know what options are available for their child. We must work together to reach every family."
Parents and guardians should have received the CHOICES brochure in the mail during the second week of November. Applications are also available at LAUSD schools, the local district office, or at any Los Angeles public library.
Parents must complete LAUSD's CHOICES application, which is also used to apply for magnet schools, and select the Public School Choice option.
The form must be turned in by the end of today to be eligible for a transfer for the 2011-12 school year.
To learn more visit www.lausd.net/nclb-psc.