Last year, I knew nothing about No Child Left Behind (NCLB)...nothing. I figured the school district knew, and they were acting accordingly. Wrong. Wrong on soooo many levels. Turns out my district knew about NCLB, but was doing as little as possible to act under it properly. This affected my kids greatly and so I launched an attack.
Long story short...my daughter, Sugar, was placed in a school across town (we'll call it School A) last year because of limited space in the school districts half-day, pre-k program. School A was not the school she was supposed to attend and I was told that she would be transferred back to her "home school", i.e. the school in our neck of the woods (we'll call it School B) the following year.
Well, School A was a dream! Her classmates were wonderful, the staff was amazing, she just simply felt at home there and I couldn't be happier. So, I started to do a little digging as to what circumstances would entitle her to remain in School A rather than being transferred over to School B. Turns out, School B was a failing school and has been on the NCLB sanctions list for the past 6 years!! Therefore, it qualified for something called "school choice" in which a parent could choose to transfer their child to another school in the district that was not failing and the district would be responsible for paying for busing. I was overjoyed. This was my out!
I wrote the Superintendent a lovely little letter explaining my request. I attached to my letter School B's state report which clearly indicated that it was a school acting under NCLB sanctions. His reply to my letter was not so lovely. As a matter of fact, he not only denied my request, but he denied me for some bullshit excuse that had nothing to do with the info in my letter. It was, in essence, the brush off. I was furious.
I launched into a verbal sparing match with this guy. He continued to stonewall me and circumvent the NCLB rules without apology. I dug deeper into NCLB rules and regulations and found that there was a complaint procedure. I drafted a complaint and emailed the damn thing to practically everyone in state government. I seriously considered contacting the media as well, but held off.
As I suspected, my school district was not operating properly under NCLB guidelines. The state stepped in and forced them to make the proper adjustments. Yes, I ended up getting my kids into the "good school". Yes, I got my way, but this was not just about getting my way.
I wondered, how many other school districts were ignoring the rules and regs of NCLB? How many other parents were forced to send their kids to failing schools because the district did not inform them of their rights? How many parents asked for a transfer and received an unlawful denial? Why should it be so difficult to take advantage of the safeguards put in place to try to ensure a good education for our children? My gut tells me that there are too many.
After what I've experienced, I want to encourage parents to go to their state's department of education website. There you will find your school district's "report card" which will give you test scores of every school in your town. If your child's school has not met was is called "AYP" for three or more consecutive years, then it qualifies for school choice. You should have received notification of the school's failure, as well as a detailed list of options for transfer. Your district is require to offer at least two options, but should be offering as a choice every passing school in the district. Your district superintendent should be working with parents to come up with a restructuring plan to improve student performance. My district was not doing any of this. Is yours?