The Los Angeles Times reports that a new Beverly Hills Unified policy has resulted in permits being denied to about 200 families whose nonresident children had been attending school in the district. The Beverly Hills Board of Education voted earlier this year to restrict permits for students who live outside the city to attend district schools. The district changed the way it funded schools, and officials argued that Beverly Hills taxpayers should not have to subsidize the cost of nonresident students attending school.
Under the new policy, nonresident seventh graders will be allowed to finish middle school in Beverly Hills. Likewise, nonresident students currently in high school will be allowed to continue to graduation. Elementary school students and those about to start high school, however, will not be allowed to return for the upcoming school year.
Many of the impacted families have appealed their child’s case to the county. Four “yes” votes out of a seven member panel are required to overturn the school district’s decision. The cases are decided based on factors that include the availability of special programs that are not offered in the student’s home district, transportation problems for the family, and child care. Of the 44 appeals cases heard so far, 30 have been denied by the panel. Many more cases are currently pending, with 30 to 40 more on the agenda over the next few weeks. The board is considering having a separate panel decide some cases in order to ease the backlog.
In the face of the many appeals being heard by the board, there have been complaints about the voting procedure. Some families have said that they did not receive a fair hearing because not all seven members of the panel were present for the vote in their case. This can result in different decisions being reached depending on the number of board members present on the day of a particular hearing. One board member has suggested revising the four-vote requirement so that only three votes are needed to win an appeal if some board members are absent.
Beverly Hills Board of Education President Steven Fenton said restricting permit students will mean more money for his district, which is in a period of transition with a new interim principal at Beverly Hills High School, three new elementary school principals and a new interim superintendent. Fenton said he has friends who have appeared before the county board and lost. “I haven’t taken satisfaction in any of this,” he said.
Source: Los Angeles Times, 7/25/10, By Carla Rivera
[Editor's note: Although residency requirements for student attendance most often are dictated by state statute, school districts vary widely on their policies for accepting nonresident students. In some states, nonresidents are required to pay tuition to the receiving district. In California, a district may issue a "permit" allowing a nonresident to attend school; a school board's decision to deny the permit may be appealed to the county. The California School Boards Association provides a sample board bylaw setting out state law requirements for interdistrict attendance appeals, at the first link below.]