- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Seventy-eight students have withdrawn or their were prevented from enrolling after attendance audits determined they weren’t eligible to attend the schools.
Charles County Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond announced in September that the school system would begin monitoring enrollment at each school. The reviews started at North Point High School, and the second began at La Plata High School a few weeks later.
At the time the review began at North Point, the school had more than 600 more students than its state-rated capacity of 1,600.
Patricia Vaira, director of student services for the county school system, told Charles County Board of Education members Tuesday that as a result of extensive review and investigations, 52 North Point students have either been withdrawn from the school or their enrollment was halted.
Of those 52, Vaira said 23 resided in Charles County, 20 were out-of-county residents, seven were stopped from enrolling, one withdrew to be home-schooled and one withdrew to the GED program.
In addition to the high school students from North Point who withdrew, 15 of their siblings were withdrawn from county schools.
La Plata was nearly 300 students over capacity at the time the enrollment audit began.
Vaira reported that nine students were withdrawn or stopped from enrolling as a result of investigations.
Of the nine, five resided in the county, one was from outside the county and three were from out of state.
In addition, two siblings of those students were withdrawn from county schools.
School board member Patricia Bowie asked Vaira if the investigations were finished.
She replied that they were not complete because staff still is receiving tips about students who are not qualified to be enrolled. The tips, she said, are not as frequent as they once were.
Vaira said while there was a concentrated effort to audit La Plata and North Point, many other schools are investigating students.
At this time, there are no other schools scheduled for enrollment audits.
Bowie asked what happens once a student is identified as being fraudulent and needs to withdraw.
Vaira said each case is unique, but basically, the student is immediately enrolled in his proper school zone.
The school board also has been paying close attention to student transfers.
Currently, there are 550 approved out-of-zone student transfers; 184 are new this year.
Last year, there were 676 approved out-of-zone students.
Of the 550 transfers, 274 are students of employees.
The board recently changed its transfer policy in an attempt to tighten the wording and potentially reduce the number of transfers.
Under the new rules, school system staff can request to have their children transfer to a school zoned in the employee’s primary work location.
For example, if an employee of the central office has a child, she can request a transfer for her child to attend Mary H. Matula Elementary School, Milton M. Somers Middle School or La Plata High School.
Full-time employees who are living out of the county will have the county portion of tuition waived, but not other applicable costs.
Conditions to the rule for students who have moved out of their current zone or plan to move into a particular zone remain the same.
Conditions to the new rule will be accepted, provided there is enough space in the school into which the transfer is requested. The request has to be made by May 1 for the following school year.
The first condition is for students requesting transfer for an academic course not available at a particular school. Under this rule, JROTC, world languages and other courses offered at each school but not with the same focus are not acceptable requests.
The other is for unusual hardships, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis and do not include common conflicts for families, such as sibling enrollment, scheduling conflicts or day care issues.
Last year, there were 741 transfers processed compared to 486 processed as of Nov. 20.
School board member Pamela A. Pedersen said out-of-zone transfer data is something the board might need to observe for a couple of years.
Board member Michael K. Lukas did not see how the new rule greatly affected the figures or what measure the board would use to determine when the figures represented the change the board was looking for.
Board member Jennifer S. Abell said the ultimate goal was to lower the number of student transfers “not to a certain degree or percent.” She said ultimately changes were made so that everyone was following the same rules.