Board of Education Policy Management Committee Recommends Further Study on Transfer Policy

October 15, 2013
The Board of Education’s Policy Management Committee voted Tuesday to recommend further study of Policy JEE, Student Transfers, and not move forward with any changes to the current policy at this time. The Board received more than 200 comments on proposed changes designed to bring greater clarity and consistency to the transfer policy. 
“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,” said Patricia O’Neill, chair of the Board’s Policy Management Committee. “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.” 
Policy JEE sets the standard under which Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students may be granted a transfer, referred to as a Change of School Assignment (COSA), to attend a school other than their home school or the school assigned to them under their Individualized Education Program (IEP).  The proposed changes, some of which were suggested to address overcrowding issues in high schools, include:
- Requiring middle school students on approved COSAs to reapply to attend high school in the same cluster, and meeting the unique hardship standard or one of the exceptions delineated in the policy. This would make the policy consistent with how elementary to middle school transitions are handled.
- Clarifying the definition of sibling and the language about COSAs for siblings whose brother or sister attends a magnet or special program.
- Clarifying language requiring all students who receive an approved COSA to attend the new school for one year before being eligible to participate in athletics.
- Making it clear that April 1 is a firm deadline for COSA applications with limited specified exceptions.

Mrs. O’Neill said the committee will recommend that the Board ask Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr and staff to explore issues raised by members of the public in their comments on the policy proposal and to look at the larger issue of how the district’s transfer policy affects schools at all levels. Mrs. O’Neill said she expects the Policy Management Committee to consider revisions to the policy again in spring 2014, with any changes taking effect no earlier than the 2015 transfer season.

However, Mrs. O’Neill said the Board of Education believes the April 1 deadline for COSA applications—as currently outlined in Policy JEE—is important to a fair and timely process and will be enforced.

Dr. Starr said he would make sure that Board members have all the information they need for future consideration of changes to Policy JEE.  

“We appreciate the Policy Management Committee’s careful deliberation and our staff will work with the committee and the community to ensure that we have a policy that provides clearer rules to guide student transfers,” said Dr. Starr.

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