MCPS To Keep Transfer Policy For Now

MCPSThe Montgomery County Board of Education on Tuesday decided to table some changes to the school system’s transfer policy after a deluge of comments..

The Board’s Education Policy Management Committee got more than 200 comments on the proposed changes, meant to clarify the policy and deal with overcrowding issues in high schools. The Committee voted to recommend further study of transfers, known in MCPS as Policy JEE or a Change of School Assignment (COSA).

The changes were proposed to tighten up the policy and clarify some of the existing rules, especially the April 1 deadline for a COSA application. Of the 4,192 COSA applications MCPS received in 2012-2013, 550 came after the April 1 deadline.

Recommendations included requiring middle school students who transferred to re-apply to attend high school in that same cluster. The draft revision would also better define what siblings can attend the same magnet or special program school as their brother or sister.

It would also clarify language about participation in athletics. The recommendation would require students who receive an approved COSA to sit out a year from athletics at their new school. The revised policy would also make clear that April 1 is a firm deadline with “limited specified exceptions.”

“It became abundantly clear to us that we need to take more time to study this policy before moving forward with any action. Community members raised several important questions and staff has identified areas that need further evaluation as well,” Patricia O’Neill, chair of the Committee, said in a prepared release. “As a committee, we believe it is important to consider all the implications of changes to the policy in a careful and deliberate way so that we have a policy that serves our system well for years to come. It is important that we have clear rules governing transfers and that they are enforced consistently and fairly.”

O’Neill said she expects the Committee to again consider revisions in the spring. Any changes wouldn’t happen until at least the 2015 transfer season.

The BOE last revised the policy in 2002, after it lost a Federal Court of Appeals case against a student it denied a transfer to because of racial balancing. The school system has grown by about 20,000 students since and most downcounty schools are above capacity or on pace to reach capacity in the next few years.

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