September 20 — 11:00 pm, 2006

Complaint: parents must have a say on school plans

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is reviewing a complaint that the School District has violated the federal No Child Left Behind law (NCLB) by not including parents, teachers, and students in “restructuring plans” for low-performing schools. The complaint was filed last spring by the Education Law Center.

A school must develop a restructuring plan when it fails to meet its performance targets for “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) for five consecutive years or more, according to the law.

Schools must begin addressing problems during these first five years by crafting “school improvement” plans, but schools that still do not meet targets move to “Corrective Action II” status. These schools must develop a restructuring plan that year, and if they fail to meet AYP again, the law says they must implement the plan the following year.

NCLB requires Corrective Action II schools to involve parents and teachers in decisions about the restructuring plans.

ELC says about 90 city schools are in or on the verge of restructuring, and the District should be informing all parents about why these schools have been identified for restructuring and inviting them to participate in developing a plan.

The School District argues that the complaint is without merit and that District schools all adopt a school improvement plan with parent input.

ELC is gathering experiences of individuals in “Corrective Action II” schools. “If you are a student, parent, or teacher in one of these schools and have a story about your access to the local restructuring process, we would love to hear it,” says Allison Balter, a public education advocate at ELC. (To reach her, call 215-238-6970.)

To find the status of a school under NCLB, go to the Pennsylvania Department of Education website – www.paayp.com.

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