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School District Wants Friends to Stay Together

New open policy allows students at a school that feeds into two or more schools to choose which school they'd like to attend.

Students wanting to stick with their school friends as they go from elementary to middle school and then from middle school to high school will have that chance under a new policy trustees approved Tuesday.

Trustee John Alpay recommended the change last month, and it was incorporated into the policy approved Tuesday.

“[It’s] so they can attend their local high school in their own cities or they could go with their fellow students that they’ve grown up with,” Alpay said at the Feb. 8 meeting.

Alpay said he was thinking about the case of  , where many of the students are assigned to go to , but some are slated for in San Juan Capistrano. If San Clemente has the openings, the San Juan Hills-bound students should have the option to apply to San Clemente, he said.

Previously, when families applied to enroll students in a school that wasn’t their home school, the district would classify them into four levels of priority:

  • Priority A: Students who are siblings to other students already in the school.
  • Priority B: Students who are already at their desired school for at least one full year but then move.
  • Priority C: Students who want to go to the school that’s funded by their Mello-Roos taxes if that is not their home school.
  • Priority D: All other students.

Now enters a new Priority D that bumps the old “D” to “E.” It reads:

“CUSD students who reside in a feeder pattern which divides students to different school sites upon promotion to the next school level … will be provided the opportunity to attend the same school as the majority of students in their feeder pattern.”

The three middle schools that split the student population into two or more high schools are Shorecliffs, in San Juan Capistrano—dividing students between San Juan Hills High and Dana Hills High—and Ladera Ranch Middle School, dividing students between San Juan Hills and  in Las Flores.

This year, only San Juan Hills, Tesoro and  highs are accepting open enrollment applications, while San Clemente,  and only accept open enrollments when a home-area student opts out of one of those schools.

Trustee Anna Bryson said the newest priority “certainly resolves issues we have seen in the past.”

But parents shouldn’t consider their priority status a shoo-in. “It’s a priority, not an entitlement,” said Trustee Lynn Hatton. 

Shripathi Kamath March 09, 2011 at 06:30 PM
As someone who had the extreme discomfort of going to eight different schools in different cities to finish K-12 education in my country of birth, I think this is a great idea. I'd love to have most of my friends with me through high school It is also nice to see it as a priority, although I can see it becoming a thorny issue when it inevitably gets considered an entitlement
Lori Walker March 11, 2011 at 02:04 AM
I also think this is a great idea..... Thank you, John Alpay for the suggestion.

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