TPS Transfer Troubles

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 9:27 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa Public Schools transfer policy continues to make waves. Dozens of parents met at Edison High School Monday night. They’re upset only two Tulsa high schools have to accept students transferring from low performing schools, while Booker T. Washington does not. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports TPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Zolkoski and his staff answered questions from concerned parents for two hours Monday night, but some say they're still not satisfied.

"Is there a present policy that determines how No Child Left Behind transfers are distributed?" asked Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Dr. Michael Zolkoski.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act places schools who don't meet state standards on a needs improvement list. Students who go to schools on that list are allowed by law to transfer to a school that's not considered low performing. Some parents are upset that only Edison and Memorial have to take those transfer students, while Booker T. Washington High School is exempt.

"And they're a great school. Booker T. is a great school, and who better than Booker T. to train and help teach some of these students from at risk schools," Edison parent J. Greenawalt said.

"Booker T. is a full magnet in the true sense of the word,” Booker T. Washington interim principal Karen Rogers said.

Karen Rogers says Booker T. was originally turned into a magnet school to desegregate TPS in the 70s. She says the school admits 60% of its student body from North and East Tulsa, but they have to meet the admission requirements.

"Well they have the largest number of seats in the school from the quadrant here in North Tulsa, so that we could guarantee the balance of racial diversity," Rogers said.

The district says the No Child Left Behind Act allows for specialty schools to be exempt from accepting transfer students. Some Edison parents disagree that Booker T. meets the law's definition of specialty, and they say the current policy puts an undue burden on Edison and Memorial. Both will enroll about 30 transfer students each this year.

"We're headed to where there won't be any No Child Left Behind transfers, and that will take a while,” Dr. Zolkoski said. “But we're biting off the piece one at a time."

Some parents are also concerned about adding to Memorial and Edison when they're already overcrowded. The News On 6 checked with TPS and here are the numbers, Edison has a student body of 1,277 students with a capacity of 1,354. At Memorial there are 1,366 students with a capacity of 1,519. There was talk of adding pre-fabricated buildings to relieve overcrowding at Edison's Middle School, but Dr. Zolkoski decided Tuesday he would not do that.

Some Edison parents say they're taking the transfer issue to state and federal leaders to get the policy changed.

Watch the video: Parents Upset By Transfer Troubles At TPS

Related story:

9/24/2007 - 'No Child Left Behind' Transfer Policy Upsets Parents