MUSD reviews student transfer policy

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Martinez Unified School District (MUSD) has had a student transfer policy in place for about five years, yet it has been a recurrent topic for discussion. It was on the Sept. 23 agenda. “I am tired of this subject,” declared school board trustee John Fuller. “The policies are there to make it fair…and to protect the board. Why does it keep coming up?”

It is inevitable that some student applicants will be denied a space at the school of their choice or denied admission to any district school because the schools are close to capacity now.

In fact, at the same meeting, a woman spoke for a school district teacher applied for a transfer of her children from Morello Elementary to John Swett Elementary, and unhappy about a last-minute denial of the transfer.

Employees of the district are allowed to transfer their children into the district and to change schools within the district, but children of residents have a higher priority, and there is a 30-day “bumping period” for the district to make a final decision on such transfers. This family was reportedly informed on the 28th day.

The policy clearly sets out the priorities for Inter-district (from outside MUSD), and Intra-district (within MUSD) Transfers, but it is a little complicated because there are so many factors to consider.

The following is a simplified version of it, but anyone who plans to ask for admission on a transfer basis should get a copy of the policy from MUSD to confirm the details.

The first priority is given to children who live within the “home school” area and based on the date of registration. In other words in the area where the school is located.

The second priority is for students that live in the area, but have been ”overloaded.” They live in the area, but there was no room at that school and they have been temporarily sent to another school. They are given the choice to return to their “home school” or stay where they are in grades 1 through 5.

Third priority goes to Intra-district transfers, with a priority for children of employees (unless another resident applies within the 30-day period). There are about 450 MUSD employees. Students that have siblings at the desired school have a priority.

Inter-district transfers are the lowest priority, and are subject to the “bumping period”. There is also a criterion where a transfer can be rescinded for bad behaviors.

The board discussed the “Allen Bill,” which reportedly would allow them to permit any county employee who works 10 hours or more to apply to have their children transfer to MUSD, but that seems unlikely since the schools are already close to full, based on statewide limits on class size. Kindergarten through 4th grades are allowed 24 students to one teacher ratio, and 30 to one is allowed for older grades.

The Martinez Education Association President Brenda Navarro made the point that it might be a good idea to eliminate the “30-day bumping period” for school employees since many of the newer people hired are young and pregnancies should be expected. It was a suggestion that there may be a need to be able to offer them Inter-district transfers since the cost of living in the district is higher than some other areas. She also said there could be some flexibility in class size limits for one or two students.

Announcements at the meeting included student reports of excitement about the Shell-Martinez Education Foundation 5K and 10K Run For Education scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Sun., Sept 29.

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