Should JCPS continue to 'exit' students from its magnet schools? - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Should JCPS continue to 'exit' students from its magnet schools?

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools is considering changes to the district’s exit policy for its magnet schools, including the possibility of no longer removing a student from a program due to behavior issues, attendance issues, and/or low academic performance. 

The district's Magnet Steering Committee will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gheens Academy to gather community input before bringing a proposal to the school board later this month.

It is also asking students, parents, teachers and community members to complete an online survey, which can be found here.

Among the options being considered:

  • Option 1 - Retain the current policy and processes. This policy allows magnet programs to remove students for behavior issues, attendance issues, and/or low academic performance AFTER exhausting support and intervention processes (e.g., parent and student conferences; course recovery; counseling). But, ensure that schools and the district are following these steps consistently.
  • Option 2 - Eliminate the student exit process. No magnet school or program shall initiate the exit of a student. Thus, all JCPS schools follow the same processes for retaining and transferring students.
  • Option 3 - The Options/Magnets Exit Process for Students should be modified to apply only to academic progress. Magnet programs should only exit students who persistently show low academic performance even after interventions.
  • Option 4: The Options/Magnets Exit Process for Students should be modified to apply only to behavior violations. Magnet programs should only exit students who persistently violate established school behavior guidelines even after interventions. (Note: Other discipline resolutions for behavior issues must be the same as the JCPS Student Support and Behavior Intervention Handbook to meet district policy).

The committee, which has been operating since October 2015, has been tasked with exploring recommendations provided by the Magnet Schools of America in its April 2014 report to the Jefferson County Board of Education.

Its main goal is to see how the district can standardize and change its school choice application process to make it easier and to provide more equity and accessibility.

The Magnet Schools of America review, which cost the district $75,790, explored all of the district's optional and magnet programs and magnet schools and provided recommendations for improvement. 

Related documents:

The review came three years after national school-integration expert Gary Orfield recommended JCPS reassess many of its magnet programs, which he said "aren't very magnetic" in drawing students to other parts of the city as intended.

The committee has brought other recommendations to the school board in the past, including a proposal to use a lottery system to select magnet school students as early as 2016-17, but that proposal was never brought to the board for approval.

JCPS – the 28th largest district in the country with an enrollment of 101,000 students – has a variety of schools and programs and it prides itself as being a “choice” district. That means it that lets parents apply to the school or program that best meets their child's needs or learning style.

Yet submitting an application doesn't guarantee placement in a school or program and every school must follow the diversity guidelines outlined in the district's controversial student assignment plan, which uses socio-economic factors such as educational attainment, household income and race.

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