Open enrollment at center of dispute
A conflict pitting parents against administration recently highlighted the intricacies of open enrollment, online schooling, and home schooling.
The Clintonville Public School District Board of Education experienced those parents’ frustration at their meeting on Monday, Jan. 24.
Concerned parent Dawn Schroepfer spoke at the meeting, outlining her concerns.
“Our daughter was going to become a teenage mom. We looked into different options for education, and decided for flexibility she would do online virtual school with IQ Academy,” Schroepfer began. “She wanted to sign up for an art class because she enjoyed that so much when she was attending Clintonville and is very artistic. IQ Academy only offers an art appreciation class. My daughter wanted to at least come back for an art class.
“We mentioned this to the counselor at IQ and she said they would be able to allow that-all she had to do was talk to the principal in Clintonville and get it approved. I asked (then-principal) Garrett Rogowski about it,” Schroepfer continued. “We had it all set up for my daughter to take tow art classes, but when it came time for registration, we were told she couldn’t take these classes because she is doing open enrollment with another high school. We thought she was being ‘home schooled’.
“More recently, my daughter has a friend that is also attending IQ Academy. She told my daughter that she was signed up for an art class the next semester. I thought maybe something had changed, so I called Principal Lance Bagstad. He said since she was open enrolled, she wouldn’t be able to attend the class either,” stated Schroepfer. “I asked who decides this, and was told that it is a local decision. I called Superintendent Tom O’Toole and asked if he would think about letting the girls take the art class, and he said that the district would not allow it-they are standing by their policy that no open enrollment students would be allowed.
“I mentioned that Clintonville is retaining $3,000 for having Clintonville as my daughter’s resident school district. Mr. O’Toole said that home schooled children are allowed to attend class because it is a state law,” Schroepfer continued. “These two young ladies may not be attending Clintonville High School, each for their own reasons, but they are still members of this community. If they want to attend a few classes that they can’t get with a virtual school, then I think it’s only fair to have it offered to them just like home schooled children. I do not see any difference between the two.”
Bagstad and O’Toole said the decisions made by the district are influenced by local policy and State Statutes.
“The conversation this parent had with Principal Garrett Rogowski took place prior to my becoming principal,” Bagstad explained.
“State Statutes allow home schooled students to take up to two classes here at the high school; however, the State Statutes are silent when you have an open enrolled student that has full-time status at another school-online included. At that point, it becomes a local decision,” Bagstad continued. “Our local decision is that if a student is open enrolled out of our district, their full-time status is not with our district, and therefore they can’t take classes here. If a student open enrolls to another physical school district, they wouldn’t be taking classes here either. IQ Academy is considered a school district-students have to open enroll to these schools, just like they would to a brick and mortar school.
“Virtual schools tell parents and students they may be able to take classes at the public school, and they use it as a selling point; but it’s not the virtual school’s decision, it’s our district’s decision,” Bagstad stated. “That decision is made by the administration. To my knowledge, we have never had an open enrollment student that is full-time elsewhere take classes in our district.”
O’Toole stated that parents do have the option of open enrolling their children wherever they’d like.
“Open enrollment is a choice any parent can make for their student,” O’Toole said. “Our feeling was that in this case the parents chose to open enroll their student to IQ Academy.
“We are very willing to look into the situation and see what other districts do. We are investigating and will take information back to the school board for consideration.”
The board went on to approve the following:
? Teacher hire-Sarah Flohr, to a high school Special Education position, effective immediately;
? ESP hire-Karlie Jaensch, to a 19 hrs./week Para I position at Dellwood, effective Jan. 25;
? 2010-2012 ESP Contract Approval-Negotiated agreement with the Clintonville ESP for 2010-11 and 2011-12; and
? Out-of-State Teacher Training-Dawn Huber, to attend a Special Education Conference March 3-4, in Duluth, Minn.
The next School Board meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the middle school IMC.