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Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
December 10, 2013
DALLAS — The Dallas School Board took a preliminary look at the changes coming with a new law that will change interdistrict transfer rules across the state in July.
Intended to prevent school districts from discriminating against students — especially those with special education needs — House Bill 2747 prevents districts from requesting any information about a student except name, age, grade and contact information.
"We have this law because a school district in Oregon said they would not take special education kids," Superintendent Christy Perry said at Monday's school board meeting, without naming the district. "They are a tuition-based district and allow kids to come in and they said, 'No special education kids.' That's why we have it. It's going to impact us all."
Dallas' current transfer policy allows the district to work with others in the region to find the best placement to meet student needs. But that requires districts sharing information before completing a transfer request. That cannot happen under the new law.
Those decisions are taken away in favor of a process in which districts declare how many slots they have for out-of-district students and hold a lottery to fill them, or districts can choose not to accept transfer students.
"There are a lot of concerns about the new law, not being able to ask some of those questions up front about any kid, so you know appropriate placement," Perry said.
She said Dallas, Central, Perrydale and Falls City school districts have for years worked together to find the most suitable situation for students.
"In Polk County school districts, we have never discriminated against kids in that regard (special education) to begin with," she said.
Perrydale School District adopted an open enrollment policy last month, concerned about what would happen to its many out-of-district transfers who have attended for years. That process would allow out-of-district students who turn in transfer requests this spring to become resident students for the rest their education.
Dallas still is weighing its response.
Perry said she will get more information about the implications of the legislation in the coming months, as well as policy recommendations from the Oregon School Boards Association.
"There will be more information to come and key decision making in the future," Perry said, adding later: "If there is a way to keep a really cooperative relationship within Polk County, that is what is best for kids and best for the transfer process."