District Forced to Accommodate Students Seeking Transfer from Failing Schools

July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 11:24 PM EDT

By Allen Leight

July 9, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 11:24 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Parents have had the legal right to transfer their student out of a failing school and in to a successful one since 2002. It was part of the 'No Child Left Behind' initiative under President George W. Bush.

Through last school year, the Buffalo Public School District had denied parents transfer requests because they said there was not enough space at the few high achieving schools in the district.

The District Parent Coordinating Council filed suit earlier this year to force the district to follow the law, and the state Department of Education agreed.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown submitted the district's 'corrective action plan' to the state just recently, outlining how the district plans to accommodate all parents who want a transfer for their student.

"There is no hypothetical about not transferring students. There are hypothetical about how you are going to transfer students, but there are no hypotheticals about transferring students. The State Education Department was emphatic about that. You must transfer all students who request a transfer," explained Samuel Radford III, President of the District Parent Coordinating Council.

That means that 27,000 students in the districts 44 'priority' schools are eligible to transfer. The only problem is there are just 13 schools in good standing for those students to go to. And in the following year, that number drops to 9.

In order to make room, the district is looking at a number of options, including:

- Creating district sponsored charter schools.
- Expanding seats at schools in 'good standing'.
- Creating extension schools as part of high performing schools.
- Creating agreement with suburban school districts.

However the district becomes compliant, according to Radford, the move is a game changer for parents who now have a direct influence on their child's education.

"It puts power right in the parents hand. For the first time ever. I think ultimately what is going to happen in the district, parents can influence it, without a question or a doubt," said Radford.

The district plan must still receive state approval.

The current deadline for parents to apply for transfer for this school year is July 19th. However the DPCC is requesting that deadline be moved to the end of the month, as some parents were notified until this week.