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Interdistrict transfer timeline at FUHSD frustrates parents

Parents who are interested in removing students from Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) for the 2016-2017 school year have been expressing frustration by the delay in the interdistrict transfer process.

According to FUHSD assistant superintendent Jose Iñiguez, Fallbrook High’s interdistrict transfer dates are guided by state law.

"Educational code is pretty explicit about what the dates are," said Iniguez. "There is a difference in the amount of time a district has to reply to parents when they request a transfer for subsequent school years and within the current school year. Our board policy is based on Ed code, and is the same, if not verbatim, as those of neighboring school districts."

Iniguez stated the majority of parent requests for interdistrict transfer are currently for the subsequent school year. When parents request subsequent school year transfers, Ed code states that schools have up to 14 days after the start of the school year to provide parents with a response.

"The reason for that rationale, according to what attorneys have indicated to us, is to provide school districts with a sufficient amount of time to determine enrollment and staffing needs," said Iniguez. "Given that we are not a unified school district, it makes it more difficult to ascertain what our numbers will be in the next school year. We cannot say without uncertainty what our numbers will be. One could make the argument that we should have established a pattern [regarding incoming students from feeder schools], but numbers do not guarantee students will enroll."

Iniguez stated that the district will not necessarily take the entire amount of time given to notify parents.

"As soon as we have an accurate assessment of what are numbers are, we are comfortable making that decision," said Iniguez. "We provide parents both in person and in writing why we are not making a decision at the time [of request], and include what state law is."

One parent, Elisha Wright, has felt that frustration, as she has been trying to have her daughter’s interdistrict transfer forms accepted since December.

"I brought the forms to the administration office, and was told that they weren’t going to accept any paperwork until June," said Wright, whose daughter was accepted at Mission Vista High School.

Wright believes that Mission Vista’s arts program would be beneficial to her daughter, who balances her anxiety and depression with the arts. Wright’s doctor also signed forms stating that Mission Vista would be a better fit for Wright’s daughter, as well.

Mission Vista does its acceptance in the March, said Wright. Her daughter’s name was accepted in a lottery, but in order to be accepted in the 2016-2017 academic school year, students must have all transfer forms submitted. Mission Vista has had an established transfer agreement for this area.

"Without a signed transfer, we can’t do anything at all," said Wright. "The sticky wicket is these charter schools – the admission forms are what release her from [the Fallbrook district], and the charter schools are so full, so we have virtually no chance of getting in. FUHSD is looking at the district’s benefit, instead of if the child would have a better fit in another school based on a doctor’s or parent’s reason."

Wright called the California Board of Education, and a representative was able to confirm for her that while FUHSD does not offer School choice, it does honor transfer agreements that have been established.

"I wish that the district would give an answer instead of delaying the transfer, so if I was denied the transfer, I would be able to dispute it," said Wright. "It feels very intentional."

Iniguez explained that the district administration understands the lack of response is not necessarily what parents want to hear at the moment.

"We can understand that frustration, and we acknowledge that frustration," he said, "but we believe we are on solid legal ground as it pertains to our policies."

In addition, Iniguez stated that the request paperwork forms are the same as presented by the county’s office of education.

"Even if the district is within its legal limits, that’s not Fallbrook culture," said Wright. "The district has hired new people to come in and break up the school so that it feels like it’s a smaller community. While that sounds really good, when you have a kid with mental health concerns, it doesn’t feel like the best situation to have my daughter in. She needs to be somewhere that’s established. Maybe teachers are doing well, and they are adjusting, but it doesn’t feel like the best situation to have my daughter in."

 

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