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LA Unified leaves permit policy mostly in place -- for now

April 6, 2010 |  3:26 pm

Under pressure from parents and members of the Los Angeles Board of Education, Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said Tuesday that most students who attend schools outside the district can continue to do so next year. But he said he will go back to the board in September with a policy to deal with the 2011-12 school year and beyond.

In February, 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 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 those in 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.

But many families mounted an aggressive campaign to persuade L.A. Unified to scuttle or modify the policy change. Parents held a rally outside school district headquarters Tuesday before the school board met to discuss the permit issue for the first time.

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 had proposed that that all high school students remain in their schools of choice until graduation.

Cortines said he has consulted with numerous other officials, lawyers and parents and decided to allow most students to retain their permits next year. Board members asked that the new policy to be discussed in September take into account concerns raised over the last few weeks.

--Carla Rivera