Transfer Notice Delays Frustrate Parents

By: Gordon Boyd
By: Gordon Boyd

Knoxville (WVLT) - School starts in Knox County, three weeks from Thursday. But as of Wednesday, more than 1700 students still don't know where they're going.

Their transfer requests held up, while school board members figure out whether a recent Supreme Court ruling will force them to throw out any decisions based on race.

Volunteer TV’s Gordon Boyd looks at what the board has to consider.

Practically speaking, the court ruling could affect about five dozen children. But with the clock ticking, parents want to know which five dozen?

Mom Lee Ann Brabson's glad to play games, with kindergartner-to-be Kellen.

But not, she says with Knox County Public Schools, “They'd better tell me something besides, 'he's black.'”

Kellen's transferred into Sarah Moore Green's magnet pre-school the past couple of years.

But before last month's Supreme Court ruling, Greene had one of Knox County's so-called racially identifiable schools, no white students transferring out, or blacks in, for fear of upsetting the balance the feds approved.

“I don't appreciate, you know, my child can't go where I want him to go because of the color of his skin,” says Lee Ann.

“Yeah, they're my friends,” says Kellen.

“If the parent received an approval for a transfer last year, in all likelihood it falls within that 1,200 plus category that's already been approved,” says Knox County Schools Superintendent Roy Mullins.

Most transfers denied, Knox County's Interim Superintendent says, are for space -- the school's full.

But even if Knox County, decides to allow transfers regardless of race, “Those that were denied on race, where there was no space, are still denied,” Mullins says.

“Maybe it's time for a lawsuit,” says Lee Ann.

The Board also has to decide whether to change which transferred kids get bussed.

Current rules allows it if mom or dad works for the district, if families would suffer clearly defined hardship, if the kindergarten in the child's home district is full, or if whites are attending primarily black magnet schools.

“You have to be yourself, that way people can like you for who you are,” Kellen says.

Kellen's Mom says the School Board needs to keep in mind another Golden Rule: “Let the children be where they're gonna do well. Don't just shuffle our kids around and treat them like little numbers, to meet your quotas, or requirements or whatever. These are kids lives.”

The board meets this coming Monday to settle all this.

Which could put transfer notices in the mail next Tuesday, so every parent and child affected would know by next Friday.

Again, even if the board throws out race. It's still denied a lot more transfers for space. And space could get even tighter, more transfer requests are coming.

Knox County's opening a window next week for children who've moved since April or who’s parents have switched custody.


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