Wake families to decide school calendar

May 28, 2008 4:27:04 AM PDT
The Wake County school district will continue allowing new students and their families to have a choice between traditional or year-round calendars for now.

A recent Court of Appeals decision allowed Wake County schools to assign students to different schools and calendars without their consent, in an effort to ease overcrowding.

Last Thursday, the state supreme court blocked that ruling, so the board is being forced to alter its plans.

"Our goal was to eliminate confusion." Wake County School Board Vice Chair Beverly Clark said.

The confusion Clark says she is referring to is who gets to choose where students go to school.

Recently, the court of appeals ruled that the school system does not need parental consent to place students in year-round schools.

However, the board was allowing returning students and their families to have a choice, while forcing newcomers to the area where school leaders see fit.

But last Thursday, the state's highest court blocked that ruling, so Tuesday the school board decided everyone can choose.

"When the family arrives, they will be given the option of attending the base assigned school where they are registering, or being assigned to the traditional calendar school that's been designated for their school," said Chuck Dulaney with county growth management.

The battle over school choice began last year, when a local parent group, Wake Cares, sued the school system over its plans to convert nearly two dozen elementary and middle schools to year-round.

Critics believe the change disrupts the lives of thousands of families.

The district maintains it's the only way to handle the area's rapid growth.

The issue has become somewhat of a waiting game now, as the Supreme Court decides whether or not to hear the case at all.

And while Wake Cares is hopeful the supreme court will hear their appeal, school board members say the hold-up in the interim will create problems for the upcoming school year.

Currently, Wake County families who do not return a consent form by june first will be assigned to a year-round school.


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