Families Frustrated With Maize School District Preference System

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Nearly two dozen families have banded together to voice their frustration over the Maize School District's preference system.

They say they don't feel their questions and concerns are being heard.

"We just want answers," parent Raquel Tyrell said.

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.

It's a process the Maize School Board put into place in 2008, Superintendent Doug Powers said. But this year, for the first time, the district wasn't able to place 100 percent of the students at their preferred high school, District Communications Director Karen McDermott said.

"This is new territory for us," McDermott said.

Making the Best Use of Facilities

Raquel and Corey Tyrell say their daughter has grown up in the Maize South schools. They say the district forcing her to go to Maize High School instead of Maize South High School would be devastating.

"Here we are going into high school, this most important transition of their lives and they (school district leaders) want to jumble it all up again," Corey Tyrell said. "It upsets us."

McDermott says the district was not able to accommodate three percent of the 515 students who submitted a preference card. McDermott says it's a matter of making the best use of the facilities.

"When we are looking at the overall student population, what we're trying to do is put two-thirds of the population at Maize High and one-third at Maize South," McDermott said.

The challenge for the district is that the majority of students live outside of Maize, closest to Maize South. Also, Maize South Middle School is the larger of the two middle schools while Maize South High School is the smaller of the two high schools, McDermott said.

When there is an overabundance of students wanting to go to one school and not the other, as happened this year, it becomes a lottery process to see who goes where.

"It truly is a random process in selecting those students," McDermott said.

Appealing the Decision

Families that aren't happy with the results of that process then have the ability to appeal. There is process that has been put into place by the Maize Board of Education.

The first appeal must be made to the building's principal. At that round, the principal is able to quickly resolve blatant issues. For example, a pair of twins had been separated by the lottery process and scheduled for different schools. That was immediately correctly, Powers said.

Parents can then appeal to a panel of school district representatives. That panel features three people, including the district's Director of Primary and Secondary Education.

This year, 49 families filed an appeal at that level, Powers said. Families received notification of the panel's decision beginning Friday of last week. Some parents were to receive those letters today, Powers said. At least eight of the decisions were overturned based on extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis, Powers said.

The third and final round of appeals goes before the Maize Board of Education. That will happen in the next several weeks, McDermott said.

Looking for a Change

Some families say there has to be a better way.

That's why the families created a Facebook page called, "Transparent Maize." The idea, they say, was to establish a forum to discuss "a better plan for Maize and Maize South" high schools.

Families told KAKE News late Monday night, that page had been taken down. They say they don't know who disabled it or for what reason.

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