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Board agrees on magnet school policy change

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Published:   |   Updated: October 15, 2013 at 11:23 PM

BROOKSVILLE - School board members agreed Tuesday that magnet schools should be able to move students who are behaviorally disruptive or have poor attendance and grades back to their normally zoned schools.

Currently, that policy only applies to zoned schools in the district, and not magnet schools like Challenger K8, Chocachatti Elementary and Nature Coast High School.

Administrators discussed the policy change during a workshop, which would follow a school board decision to include magnet schools in standing School Choice policy.

The proposed changes would not take effect until after the current school year, according to Student Services Director Mary-Grace Surrena.

Four of five school board members, with the exception of an absent Dianne Bonfield, reached consensus that a magnet school student with behavioral, attendance or academic performance issues should not be relocated to their normally zoned school until the end of that school year.

"That's one of my big problems," said board member Cynthia Moore. "If you move a child who's having disciplinary problems, you just move the problem from one place to the other."

Moore, among other board members, also said it would be shrewd to wait until the end of the year before removing a student, so magnet schools would not end up keeping the funding for that student, while it becomes another school's responsibility to teach them.

Surrena said by far the greatest problem with magnet school students considered for removal is not behavior but rather transportation.

"The majority have to do with attendance issues, and tardy issues," she said, adding that magnet schools will send letters to parents giving warning that their child might be removed if improvement is not shown.

At the request of the school board, Surrena provided a rough estimate of how many magnet school students the tentative changes would affect, to which she said 50.

However, Moore said she thought the number could be as high as 300, due to magnet school policies' preference of admitting the siblings of current students.

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