Tonight at 7:30 pm the highly anticipated Policy Committee will be meeting to discuss the magnet school admissions policy will take place.
Here is the agenda with the zoom link:
This week, both The Advocate and the CT Examiner published articles on the issue of the magnet school policy and we recommend you read those before the policy meeting tonight for the latest information.
Additionally, you can read the post we made here on SPU last week:
While school board members Jackie Pioli, Lisa Butler and Josh Esses are raising important questions, overall parents and teachers are more or less in agreement: we think the professional courtesy of allowing teachers to bring their own children to the school where they work is good for attracting and retaining teachers and for creating more buy-in among teachers, one of the most important stakeholders in any conversation about our schools (we think the specific terms should be negotiated such as an enrollment cap and a tuition fee).
Still the fact of the matter is, Dr. Lucero has failed to properly implement these policies, which has allowed for this grey area to exist between the public's understanding of the magnet lottery system and the actual practice of the central office. Yet, more evidence of her failed leadership.
Though not previously mentioned by Dr. Lucero or anyone on the board, district spokesperson Kathleen Steinberg told the CT Examiner that central was not out of compliance with the magnet school policy because in the implementation section of the policy, 5117.2R, it states: “Admission to all magnet schools is under the direction of the superintendent or his/her designee,” and that “Admissions will be limited to the approved number of available seats, unless exceptions are authorized by the superintendent."
Below is a screenshot of that section of the policy. Do you think it is a reasonable suggestion that because "admissions to all magnet schools will be under the direction of the superintendent" that suddenly Dr. Lucero has unlimited authority to do whatever she wants?
Indeed, the policy only gives the Superintendent the authority to authorize exceptions, NOT to use as a backdoor for the usual process of professional courtesy. In other words, giving professional courtesy is not an exception - Dr. Lucero herself described it as a common practice throughout her time in the district.
These are the questions that should be asked answered at the BOE meeting tonight:
Why has Dr. Lucero's administration been using part of the 5117.2R policy meant for exceptions to implement what she herself admits is common practice? Why was she knowingly operating in a grey area causing tensions between parents and teachers? How is any of this "objective" (see #3 in the policy procedure above)?
How many families apply to magnet schools in total? How many spaces are available each year? What percentage get in? How long do the waiting lists run? (data sets with at least 5 years of comparative numbers).
The Advocate reported that "22 of the students accepted through professional courtesy this school year were at magnet schools." Are these students just entering the school or are these totals for all grades in the school including those previously granted the courtesy? It makes a difference if this year it is 20, plus last year it was 20 and so on, because that would mean there are far more spots taken by teachers' kids than they are leading us to believe downtown (20 kids per grade is nearly an entire classroom of kids). Please clarify the total numbers, not just the number granted each year or if those are the same thing.
The CT Examiner reported that "At AITE, the magnet high school, ninth-graders numbered 166 in 2019-20. But by the time they were in 12th grade, the class had dropped to 141 students, the data show." Why are there open seats in magnet schools? Why is the waiting list protocol not being implemented with fidelity?
Why do our magnet schools perform better than our other schools? Why haven't those practices been implemented across the district so that all of our schools are desirable?