Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 16, 2013

Schools weigh in on transfer bill

Eastern threatens to stop accepting out-of-district students.

Officials in Eastern Howard School Corp. are waging an online campaign to stop a piece of legislation that attacks the practice of “cherry picking” transfer students.

State Rep. Mike Karickhoff co-authored the bill that 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.

“We’re going to do our level best to ensure that students choose schools [and] schools aren’t choosing students,” Karickhoff said last month after the House education committee approved the legislation.

The bill has since passed out of the House and remains in the Indiana Senate.

It proposes that schools hold a lottery to decide which transfer applicants are accepted to schools.

Eastern officials have made regular posts on the district’s Facebook page urging parents to contact legislators to voice their opposition to the legislation.

They’ve posted comments about the bill at least 10 times since March 6 — even going so far as to say the district will stop accepting transfer students if the bill becomes a law.

But transfer students currently make up 16 percent of Eastern’s budget, so ending the transfer practice could cost some teachers their jobs, Eastern Superintendent Tracy Caddell said.

He said he has a problem with a lottery system that would take control away from local school boards, especially when many districts don’t have an issue with “cherry picking” the students they accept.

Northwestern School Corp. officials said they accepted 95 percent of transfer students this year.

That figure was a little lower for Western School Corp. This year, Western turned away 29 students, or 24.4 percent of applicants.

Caddell said Eastern accepts 96 percent of the students who apply to transfer there — including special education students.

“Representative Karickhoff has shared with me that this bill is about fairness,” Caddell said. “We have 231 transfer students from 19 different schools or corporations. There is not an issue of cherry picking.”

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