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Conflict arises in Oklahoma concerning student transfers to virtual schools

The state Education Board voted Thursday to rescind outdated rules regarding emergency transfers after superintendents contested student transfers out of their districts.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: July 29, 2011

A recent spike in the number of students transferring into school districts that have virtual programs — sometimes on the opposite side of the state — has caused confusion and conflict over Oklahoma's emergency transfer laws.

Superintendent Karl Springer said about 80 emergency transfers out of Oklahoma City Public Schools have been denied by his staff, only to be approved later by the state Education Department.

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said a number of superintendents are frustrated that their denials of emergency transfers are being overridden by the state.

The confusion comes from conflicting regulations, Barresi said.

The Education Department rules say the department should act as a tiebreaker between districts in emergency transfer decisions.

Lisa Enders, the department's general counsel, said that regulation is outdated and in direct conflict with state law.

State law says there are eight reasons a student may be transferred from a school district after the April 1 deadline for open transfers. Open transfers cannot be denied for any reason if the receiving district accepts the student.

The Education Board voted Thursday to revoke the current department regulations and instead follow state law.

Barresi said the law needs to be followed, but the board can come back next year to clarify the rules or even support changes in legislation.

Robert Neel, executive director of accreditation and standards, said his department has denied about half of the emergency transfer requests.

“They're asking for the opportunity to take virtual courses,” Neel said.

His team looks to see whether the school district the student is zoned to attend offers similar virtual education opportunities. If it does, Neel said, they denied the transfer.

Charter school eyed

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