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L.A. school board to discuss permit policy

April 6, 2010 |  6:30 am

The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday will consider amending a new policy that limits the ability of students who live in the district to attend school elsewhere, a contentious issue expected to draw scores of parents to the afternoon meeting.

In February, Los Angeles schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines moved to limit the types of permits issued to families seeking attendance in other districts, allowing exemptions only for students whose parents work within the boundaries of the other school district and for students who would complete fifth, eighth or 12th grades next year.

Last year, L.A. Unified granted permission to more than 12,200 students to enroll in 99 other districts, including Torrance, Culver City and Santa Monica-Malibu. Cortines estimates that the district is losing $51 million in state per-pupil funding, money that could help to close a $640-million budget shortfall.

Families are able to appeal permit denials to the Los Angeles County Office of Education. But many parents are mounting an aggressive campaign to persuade L.A.’s school board to scuttle or modify Cortines’ policy revision. They argue that they should be allowed to seek better schools no matter where and complain that the announcement came too late for them to apply to magnet and charter schools.

Board members Steve Zimmer and Tamar Galatzan support the superintendent's plan to allow students in the fifth and eighth grades to continue at their schools, but the board members are proposing that all high school students remain in their schools of choice until graduation.

Hundreds of parents are expected to attend a rally before the scheduled 1 p.m. meeting at the school board’s downtown office.

Some districts that have enrolled L.A. Unified  students have argued that permit students should not be forced out and have complained that they, too, are being shortchanged.

-- Carla Rivera