In a press briefing Friday, Wake County Public School System Superintendent Tony Tata announced changes to the student transfer process that he will recommend to the board of education.
Tata’s proposals follow his finding last week that board Vice Chair Debra Goldman did not abuse her position when she received a transfer for her daughter to a prestigious middle school. The transfer bypassed the usual paperwork required for such transfers.
“I want to make sure that everyone — parents, principals and staff — are fully aware of the process,” Tata said. “After a complete review, we determined all recent transfers followed board policy, but I want to make changes that will clearly spell out the process to ensure consistency and maintain better transparency.”
Tata will ask the board to clarify the appropriate reasons for administrative transfers and eliminate automatic transportation for transfers. The district would approve transportation annually on a case-by-case basis.
According to Tata, reasons to approve a transfer include better school utilization, child-care needs, health and safety concerns and a student’s academic programming objectives.
Magnet school transfers should be denied in cases when the magnet school is full, said Tata. Any transfer should be denied if filed more than 10 days after receipt of the student’s assignment, as well as in cases when parents have previously listed a false address and in any case where a transfer would contradict a board policy.
The No Child Left Behind Act mandates the transfer of any student who has been the victim of a violent crime on school property.
The district received 4,884 transfer requests last year and approved 3,332 of them. The total number of requests has been increasing as the school system grows. The approval rate jumped from 46 percent in 2008 to 69 percent in 2010.
Tata also addressed developments in funding for proposed budget.
Earlier this week the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education of the North Carolina House of Representatives proposed an almost 9 percent decrease in funding for the state’s public schools.
Tata’s budget proposal assumes a 5 percent decrease, although from the time of the budget’s release he has repeatedly stated that the district could receive even less money.
“I think the legislature needs to take a hard look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it,” he said. “We’ll do everything to maintain teacher-student ratios. My pledge is not to let the goal of education suffer.”
When asked if he finds the prospect of a 9 or 10 percent increase “alarming” or “manageable,” Tata’s generally upbeat tone wavered a little. “’Alarming’ may be the right word,” he said.