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County's magnet schools may have more freedom

Published:   |   Updated: October 10, 2013 at 11:06 PM

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SPRING HILL - Hernando County's three magnet schools may soon have the ability to remove students with poor attendance, grades or behavior to their regularly zoned schools.

The proposed changes would follow school board approval of a measure seeking to align magnet schools like Challenger K8, Chocachatti Elementary and Nature Coast High School to standing School Choice policy, which only currently applies to zoned schools in the district, said Challenger K8 principal, Michael Maine.

No formal proposal has been brought forward, he added, and the idea is only in the discussion phase. The district confirmed all magnet schools were a part of the proposed changes and that it is not likely to happen until after this year.

When the school board might hold workshop or discussion on the matter, if any, is still to be determined, Maine said.

"There are a number of things that would go along with being a choice school," Maine said. "Students would have to abide by our procedures and rules, and parents would have to do their hours and ensure their child's attendance, and if they didn't we would have a right to remove the student."

According to 2013-14 magnet school procedures, parents and guardians at Chocachatti and Challenger are required to volunteer a minimum of eight hours at the schools.

Magnet schools, which are public schools with a particular theme or academic focus such as mathematics, science, technology, business, or performing arts, can currently disqualify a student based primarily on residency or inaccurate applications.

According to the district's School Choice policy, a student can be removed from the magnet school program if false information was provided on the application form, the parent or guardian was not a resident of Hernando County at the time they applied or fails to file residency certification or if the student withdraws from the school or changes the course of study that was the basis for their admission.

For magnet schools that accept portfolios, 70 percent of student admissions are based on lottery and 30 percent on submitted portfolios.

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