UPDATE: Maize School Board Approves All School Placement Appeals

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

Friday, February 15, 2013

All twenty-six families in the Maize School District who appealed their child's school placement decision learned Thursday their appeals have been granted.

That means all students in the district will go to their desired school in the fall.

"It was just a relief," parent Jeffrey Jarman said. "Our daughter texted us saying, 'OMG, I can't believe it!' She was very excited."

This was the third and final round of appeals for families who were unhappy with their child's school placement for the upcoming school year. The final round of appeals was done Tuesday night in front of Maize School Board members. The Board heard 15 appeals of high school placements and 11 appeals of middle school placements. On Wednesday, the Board mailed letters with its decisions.

District representatives had heard from 49 families during the second round of appeals.

In the district there are no geographical boundary lines that determine where a child goes to school. Instead, families fill out a preference card and hope for the best. When more students request a certain school than it can hold, it becomes a lottery process to see who goes where, district leaders said.

Parents contacted KAKE News in January about their frustration over the "preference system." More than two dozen families banded together using social media to voice their concerns. They have a Facebook group called, "Parent District-Org."

"It's a great example of how when parents get together and stand up together, they can make a real difference," Jarman said.

But parents say while they are thankful to the Board for allowing their students to go to their preferred school, the past few weeks have revealed problems with the district's preference system.

Some parents and community members spoke to the board during its regularly-scheduled meeting Monday night. Some of them called on the district to reevaluate not using geographical boundaries to determine school placement. Others say there are other problems with the current process.

"We have lots of potential solutions and we've got to be sure the Board hears all those potential ideas so a good decision gets made," Jarman said.

The board called on the district Monday night to form a "Student Placement Task Force." The task force will feature 25 people from the community. The district emailed a notice to all families Friday afternoon. The notice included a questionnaire that district leaders say will help them select 25 individuals who represent a cross-section of the school community.

District leaders say they expect the task force to meet beginning in March.

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