In the wake of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s announcement that “inter-district transfers for 2010-11 will continue to be available for students,” parents are left frustrated, looking for answers.
Despite the victory felt in Santa Monica by permit supporters, the battle is far from over. Parents are still scrambling to quickly apply online for inter-district permits and maneuver through the appeal process. The new online application system launched April 1 may alleviate the swamped LAUSD permit department during this rush.
About 80 percent of 12,250 inter-district permit transfers were expected to return to LAUSD schools under the revised policy. This school year, 1,245 students have transfer permits to attend Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Gayle Pollard-Terry, a LAUSD spokeswoman, said that any student who applies for his or her permit will be honored in the fall.
“I’m really pleased that they are going to take their time and really think of students in the future,” said SMMUSD Superintendent Tim Cuneo. He admitted he didn’t know for sure what is next for LAUSD. “I don’t think they really have the capacity right now. I have a feeling they may be swamped.”
Clare Baum already received a denial letter from LAUSD for her sixth-grade daughter attending Lincoln Middle School on an inter-district permit. Baum hopes this is just a glitch since she applied on April 1 before LAUSD Superintendant Ramon Cortines’ April 6 announcement. On April 9, a denial letter from LAUSD informed the family that an appeal process would be the next step.
“There is so much misinformation and it seems that every time we call the permit office we talk to the secretary who has no information,” Baum said of the entire application and appeals process. “It feels like no one is minding the store.”
Pollard-Terry said although she doesn’t know Baum’s specific situation, permit letters were not supposed to go out for a “couple of weeks.” She encourages anyone who receives a denial letter to appeal. Parents can call the LAUSD permit and student transfers office at 213.765.2880 for further information.
Marolyn Freedman, SMMUSD director of pupil services, said her office would clarify the process if parents need any direction on how to complete the appeals. Freedman stressed that applicants need to follow LAUSD procedure.
Parents are blasting updates on the Facebook group page, “Stop LAUSD From Denying Permits for Inter-District Student Transfers!!,” in order to stay on top of the latest developments. Many express frustration about back-ups at the LAUSD permit office and increased specificity on applications as to why students should stay at an out-of-district school. Others offer confused parents advice or support from their own experience.
These parents are ever wary of the future, as no one is quite sure what the Board of Education will decide in the fall concerning permit regulations. At the Los Angeles BOE meeting on April 6, Cortines said he is delaying his decision to tighten the LAUSD inter-district transfer application process until the fall. He expressed need for additional review of the administrative procedures with the intent of introducing a new administrative transfer system with further board review and discussion in September.
For this time around, Baum said she was advised when she contacted the LAUSD permit office to wait until Thursday of this week to file her appeal. Her daughter is still nervous about returning to the district that she has attended since Kindergarten.
“My students have gone to [SM] for their entire school education,” Baum said. “This is the only school that they know. This is their community, especially in middle school where peer relationships are so important. To remove her from this school would be damaging.”
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