June 13, 2013

Bill on student transfer appeals OK’d

If signed by LePage, a state board may make the final decision on requests for outside-district placement.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Since Bowen took over in early 2011, department data show that student transfers approved by superintendents have dropped off and the commissioner has been overturning transfer denials at a higher rate, particularly this school year.   

In this school year and last, superintendents approved only about 3,000 transfers, compared with about 5,400 in the previous two years.   

And in the past two school years, Bowen has fielded 135 appeal requests from students, denying only 17 of them. This school year he rejected only three out of 103.   

“We believe that is reflective of the commissioner’s beliefs on school choice,” Brown said. “But last session, a school choice bill failed in a Republican-led Legislature and a similar bill failed this year.”

Samantha Warren, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email that Bow-en’s decisions reflect “what is in the best interest of students, whether it’s exposing the student to different academic programming, moving them into a healthier school environment or ensuring access to (after-school) programming and care so they don’t come home to an empty house.”   

Brown said the amended version of L.D. 530 is a good compromise because it ensures that the final decision rests not with one person, but a board. The State Board of Education’s decision now would be considered “final and binding.”   

The state board consists of nine members, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.   

Staff Writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.   

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: erussell@pressherald.com   

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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