Lewisville ISD is considering a more “customer friendly” way of handling intra-district transfers.
The district is proposing revisions to its transfer policy that officials said will provide more flexibility yet still have regulations.
One of the proposed factors is a requirement that a student must not have more than four undocumented/unexcused absences in the previous school year and no more than 10 undocumented/unexcused late arrivals to be eligible for a transfer.
A student’s total attendance from the previous school year, inclusive of both documented and undocumented absences, must be 90 percent or greater. The requirement was previously 95 percent.
“Late arrivals were a huge thing for the elementary school principals,” Joseph Coburn, chief of schools, said. “They said, ‘If there is anything that would incentivize a transfer, can you focus on on-time arrival to elementary school because it is a disruption to the elementary school day when students struggle to get there on time.”
Coburn said in terms of unexcused absences, it’s important for parents to know that a parent’s note doesn’t necessarily mean an absence is automatically excused.
LISD has a limit in student handbook of no more than six notes in a semester and no more than eight in a year to excuse an illness.
“The idea being that if a kiddo gets the flu, we don’t want to make people go to the doctor whenever their child gets a fever,” Coburn said. “But there’s a limit we want to put on it because we would have instances where a student would have 30-35 absences, and the parent would say, ‘But I brought a note for every single one.’”
While a student’s discipline history has always been a transfer factor, the proposed change defines persistent misbehavior as three or more office referrals, in addition to the existing policy of any placement in a disciplinary alternative education program or any expulsion to Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) in the current or most recent school year.
Transportation availability is another proposed addition. Coburn said the district could revoke a transfer if a student loses his or her transportation to a campus located farther away.
“As much as it would break my heart that you have to say goodbye to your friends I can’t have you walking home three or four miles across major roads that don’t have crossing guards,” Coburn said.
A proposed change is allowing a student who transferred to another campus to stay within that feeder pattern going forward.
Coburn said tweaking the policy to more of a feeder pattern transfer would likely cut down on transfer requests because students wouldn’t have to re-apply when they’re going from elementary school to middle school and middle school to high school.
The district is proposing adding a timeframe that the transfers can be requested. Coburn said while the district wants to be accommodating, processing the requests can be time consuming for district staff. Coburn said the district received more than 4,000 transfer requests last year.
Superintendent Kevin Rogers said the goal of the changes is to open up more opportunities for the students.
“We are really trying, every chance we can, to say yes. We want to say yes,” Rogers said. “We just can’t do it if it means we have to hire another second-grade teacher.”
Board president Katherine Sells said she is happy to see the policy flexibility and sees how this can benefit students who may not be striving at a particular campus.
“Some of the restrictions that are placed on these kids, I think sometimes their surroundings is what makes them not successful,” Sells said. “So I want to make sure we’re not losing a child to a love of education because our restrictions are such that we’re not allowing them the opportunity to succeed. Maybe not where we choose for them to be but where they’re excited to be.”
The board will vote on the policy changes in a future meeting.