August 04, 2012


NCLB Waiver Causing Local Enrollment Headaches

by Peter Hancock l The Kansas Education Policy Report

Many parents throughout Kansas are finding out this week that their children are no longer be able to attend the same school they attended last year. And that’s mainly because Kansas has been granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The problem is one that few people anticipated when Kansas, along with most other states, applied for those waivers earlier this year. It came to light in Topeka Thursday evening at a USD 501 Board of Education meeting, where parents surprised by the rule change came seeking an explanation for what had happened.

Under NCLB, if a school failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks two or more years in a row, the district had to give that student the option of transferring to another school that had met its targets. And the district had to pay for the transportation costs. Districts were also allowed to use up to 20 percent of their federal Title I funding to pay those costs.

But now that Kansas has been granted a waiver from NCLB, schools no longer have to meet those benchmarks, and they are no longer subject to penalties for failing to do so. As a result, they no longer have to pay for transportation costs. And even if they choose to do it anyway, they can no longer use Title I money to pay for it.

Jeremy Gibson, a parent who is also a teacher and president of the local bargaining unit, said he was disappointed that USD 501 had chosen to discontinue paying for that transportation. Gibson said he and his wife can afford to pay the transportation themselves. But he said he sympathized with those parents who couldn’t.

“Those parents who, through No Child Left Behind, were able to have true choice, who sent their children to a non-neighborhood school because they thought their children would thrive there … who just found out on enrollment day that he or she has no transportation,” Gibson said. “As my wife and I were talking, I said that it’s kind of sad because they found out from enrollment that they may not be going to the school they chose to go to because of budget. You and I both know this isn’t right.”

USD 501 Superintendent Dr. Julie said school districts just received formal notification of the change last week, just before the start of enrollment. Now, parents are just learning about it as they try to enroll their children for the upcoming term.

© 2012, Hancock Publishing Co. All rights reserved. Reposted here with permission.