Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 12, 2013

Bill targets ‘cherry picking’ of students

Karickhoff proposal gets out of committee on 9-0 vote

INDIANAPOLIS — Legislation that would stop public schools from “cherry picking” transfer students is headed to the Indiana House.

The bill would ban school districts from accepting only the brightest transfer students while turning away those with special needs, low test scores and minor disciplinary problems.

The House education committee approved the legislation in a 9-0 vote Tuesday, after hearing from teachers and administrators in urban schools who said their suburban counterparts were unfairly profiting from Indiana’s decision three years ago to open up school district borders.

“We’re going to do our level best to ensure that students choose schools [and] schools aren’t choosing students,” said the bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Mike Karickhoff of Kokomo.

Co-authors on House Bill 1381 include Democrat Rep. Terri Austin of Anderson, and two other Republicans, Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany and Rep. Kevin Mahan of Hartford City.  

At issue is Indiana’s open enrollment law, passed by the General Assembly in 2008. It cleared the way for more students to transfer out of the school district where they live and into a neighboring district without having to pay tuition.

The change came after the state took over funding of schools, which had been previously paid for with local property taxes.

Within a year of the law going into effect, more than 12,000 students had transferred out of their home districts and into a neighboring district. Many have transferred out of urban school districts and into suburban or rural districts.

The original open enrollment law allowed school districts to set policies about whom they’d accept. Some schools have used students’ standardized test scores and disciplinary records to determine which transfer students to let in — and which ones to close out. Some school boards have decided not to accept any transfer students at all.

Rick Muir, an Anderson school teacher and president of the Indiana Federation of Teachers, told the House education committee the law has lead to discriminatory policies in which some school districts were “cherry picking” the best transfer students and turning away students with special needs or low standardized test scores.

The problem is exacerbated by recent education legislation that elevated the role of standardized test scores in determining pay for teachers and how schools are graded by a new state evaluation system.

It’s also complicated by the fact that the state provides extra dollars to schools for every low-income student enrolled. That means a transfer student with high test scores and from a low-income family is seen as having more value than a student with low test scores or other challenges.

“This discriminatory policy in Indiana should not be tolerated any longer,” Muir said, adding that it’s “widening the gap between haves and have-nots.”

Dawn McGrath, a school administrator in Kokomo, said Indiana legislators who’ve been pushing for more school choice for families need to rectify the problem.

“In this case, school choice is only available to choice students,” McGrath said.

Under Karickhoff’s bill, school districts still would be allowed to opt out of taking any transfer students. But if a district did decide to accept transfer students, it would have to accept all transfer students with few exceptions.

Those exceptions include students who’ve been suspended for 10 or more days in a school year or who have been suspended for causing physical injury or violating drug and alcohol policies.

It would also require school districts to be more transparent with their transfer policies, such as posting deadlines on their websites, and require schools that are at or near capacity to set up a kind of lottery system, where admission would be determined by a random drawing at a public meeting. The law would cover transfers between schools within the same district, as well as inter-district transfers.

Frank Bush, head of the Indiana School Boards Association, said his organization supported the bill. John Barnes, the legislative liaison for new Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, said Ritz is neutral on the bill for now, but will be watching it as it moves through General Assembly.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Mac talent show 01 lf Maconaquah students, alumni take the stage for 50th annual variety show BUNKER HILL - When students from Bunker Hill and Clay Township schools suddenly found themselves walking the same halls in the new Maconaquah High School, they needed something to rally around as they formed their new school identity. That's when Pow

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • NWS - KT041714 - Bunker Hill child neglect arrests - CLG - pic1 Miami Co. couple face charges of neglect after children found malnourished BUNKER HILL - Two Bunker Hill children have been placed in foster care after officials discovered they were living in a dilapidated house with no heat or running water and were exposed to dangerous amounts of lead. In relation to the case, police Mon

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Maconaquah School Corp. to add new preschool program PERU -- In an effort to meet the needs of Miami County's young children, Maconaquah School Corp. is set to expand its preschool programs next school year. The school district is starting a "Little Braves Academy" preschool program, in addition to its

    April 17, 2014

  • $3.27M grant will boost technical training at Ivy Tech Kokomo Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region just received a $3.27 million boost from the federal government to expand programs dedicated to preparing high school students for careers in industrial technology. Ivy Tech's Integrated Technology Education P

    April 17, 2014

  • NWS KT 041714 pic traveling diplomat Kokomo senior Craig Simon to be traveling diplomat The chance to travel the globe, earn college credits and get paid sounds too good to be true, but it's about to be reality for Kokomo High School senior Craig Simon. The Kokomo School Corp. board of education approved a recommendation Monday to make

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Plea deal filed in Kokomo murder-for-hire plot A Kokomo woman accused of plotting to kill her daughter's boyfriend pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Tuesday as part of a proposed plea deal. Police arrested Christy Shaffer, 41, in September on a conspiracy to commit murder charge after she alleged

    April 17, 2014

  • Tabitha Mitkus Heroin found in hotel room bust Kokomo police seized heroin, pills, cocaine and stolen property in an early morning, motel room bust. Tabitha B. Mitkus, 24, 2000 block of Pontiac Court, was arrested at Garden Inn, 4021 S. Lafountain St., after hotel staff reported suspicious activi

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • North split restrictions on Monday The Indiana Department of Transportation will restrict traffic at the single-lane ramp that connects U.S. 31 to southbound Ind. 931 on the north side of Kokomo — weather permitting — on Monday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remedial repairs along the 200-

    April 16, 2014

  • BK rebuild 04 Peru restaurant B-K West rebuilding after tornado

    PERU -- B-K West is more than just a drive-in restaurant to its owner, J.D. Hann. It's a piece of his childhood, a historic Peru landmark, and it's his baby. "I grew up with this place," the 57-year-old Peru native said. "We used to walk the tracks o

    April 16, 2014 7 Photos

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks backs manufacturing training efforts Congresswoman Susan Brooks' own personal manufacturing experience may have been limited to three months in a Kendallville caramel factory as a college student, but in her congressional roles, she's having an impact on the skills debate. In Kokomo Tue

    April 16, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries