COVINGTON - At its January meeting, the Newton County Board of Education approved several changes to its student assignment policy, which determines if a student can be assigned to a school outside of their attendance zone.
Without further discussion, school board members unanimously approved a recommendation by Newton County School System Superintendent Steven Whatley that changes several allowable reasons for students to transfer from their assigned home schools.
In December, the board began reviewing policy JBCC, specifically regarding medical conditions requiring out of zone placement and permissive transfers to accommodate choice.
Currently, students can be transferred on a voluntary basis to other schools for various reasons - including being a child of full-time employees and school board members and being a student in special instructional programs - but the new policy now limits that practice.
"Permission for a student to attend school outside the assigned attendance zone will be granted annually ... when the application has been signed and approved by both principals and the superintendent's designee, the director of student services," the policy reads.
The policy also strikes the former allowance of school transfers by students with extreme medical conditions whose needs weren't being met.
Previously, students whose families move from one attendance zone to another in the district could transfer schools immediately or remain at their school until the end of the semester or end of the school year, but now the policy requires the student to transfer immediately or at the end of the semester. The policy also adds that if a student moves out of the county, he/she must transfer immediately.
Additionally, the policy once allowed guardians of students who plan to relocate in another zone in the district during the school year to transfer their student upon approval, but now the family must be planning to relocate within 90 days. Guardians could request an extension but must have documentation or the student must return to their previous school at the end of the semester.
The policy also added that if transfers are approved and false information is discovered, the transfer will be rescinded; it also eliminates the option for an appeal for the transfer decision.
Furthermore, the new policy lists seven reasons that transfers will not be granted: personal preference, discipline problems, conflicts with school personnel, school adjustment problems, convenience to child care or work or other reasons, academic difficulty and chance of attendance lines or zone changes.
The policy is available for viewing on the NCSS Web site, www.newtoncountyschools.org.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.