The Kings Park Board of Education has voted unanimously to allow the superintendent to make limited exceptions for primary grade siblings to attend the same school, if one of the students is assigned to a school outside their attendance zone for special education or English as a Second Language programs.
It is the first time the school district has created a policy to consider such reassignment requests for K-3 students at Park View and Fort Salonga elementary schools, Superintendent Susan Agruso said Tuesday, adding that the policy is a "pilot" for the 2013-2014 school year.
"We're going to try it for one year and then next spring we are required by the board to bring it back for further discussion to make sure that it is not going to be a financial burden to the district and it's not going to disrupt the attendance at the two schools," Agruso said.
It is not "financially feasible" to offer ESL and special education services at both schools due to the district's small size and number of students receiving those services, the policy said. Both services are offered only at Fort Salonga, Agruso said.
"We've struggled with this for a long, long time to see how it would work," said Agruso of sibling reassignment requests. "It's come up in past and we've said no."
The new policy sets strict guidelines for elementary school reassignments.
The board can't allow exceptions that result in financial burdens such as hiring more staff or adding bus routes. Reassignments can be made only if there is classroom space and room on buses, unless the parent provides transportation.
Once the student who was assigned for program reasons leaves the school, the sibling granted reassignment approval must return to the child's home school the next school year, the policy said. If a reassignment request is denied by the superintendent, a family may appeal the decision.
One family asked the board last month to allow an exception for their two children -- a general education student and one who is severely autistic -- to attend the same school.
Upon hearing about the board's decision, the mother, who declined to be identified, said, "I appreciate all the hard work the school board did in making this policy change."
School board president Marie Goldstein said she was "ecstatic that we were able to meet the needs of this student . . . where there's a will, there's a way."