UNDERSTANDING THE HISTORY OF STUDENT ASSIGNMENT
Following years of court supervision and almost two years of extensive community input and discussion during 2003 and 2004, the School District of Lee County developed The Plan for Student Assignment. The Board approved the Plan on February 24, 2004 and implemented in the 2005-2006 school year. The Plan has undergone annual reviews for possible changes, revisions and improvements.
Prior to its adoption in 2004, the District sought extensive community input. In response to interest from approximately 2,100 Lee County stakeholders, The Plan was designed to give all parents and guardians in Lee County, the opportunity to make selections from a wide range of schools offering appropriate educational program options for their children. In addition, The Plan was designed to provide greater opportunities for students to attend schools closer to home, decrease ride time for students and reduce transportation costs. The Plan was also developed to promote stability of assignments for students and encourage a healthy competition among schools striving for academic excellence. Under The Plan, students continue to be assigned to schools within the parameters of physical space, popular assignment preferences, such as sibling and proximity preferences and, unless students move, they are allowed to remain in the school to which they are assigned until they finish the highest grade level in that school. Such stability continues to promote higher levels of student achievement in the District. The assignment zone concept provides Lee County families with added choice and flexibility enabling them to find the best fit for their child
1964: Rosalind Blalock vs. Lee County Schools. District found operating an unconstitutionally racially segregated school system.
1970: Beginning of Court Ordered Desegregation in the Lee County Public Schools utilizing Boundary System.
1970-1995: Issues during this time period included frequent changes in Boundaries, lengthy bus rides for minority students, and inability to achieve unitary status under the existing system.
1995: Adopted the policy of school choice in order to achieve unitary status utilizing a Unitary School System Advisory Committee (USSAC). Included a combination of boundary changes and magnet programs pending implementation of managed choice within three years.
1996: Controlled Choice Plan adopted for implementation in the 1998-1999 school year.
1997-1998: School District makes last boundary changes for the school year.
1998-1999: School Choice implemented with three attendance zones. Magnet programs served all three attendance zones. Unitary Status achieved.
1999-2004: Federal monitoring for full compliance of Unitary Status based upon School Choice plan.
2003-2004: The current Plan for Student Assignment was approved by the School Board. The Plan was modified for zones and subzones, replication of programs for equal and more convenient access, and elimination of race as a criteria for student assignment.
2005-2006: Current plan for student assignment implemented for the first time
2006-2007: Plan updated: Waived the non contiguous sub-zone assignment principle under certain circumstances and implemented the sub-zone preference as an additinal factor
2007-2008: Plan updated: Clarified the qualifications for assignment waivers and modified the mix of educational facilities and opportunities in each zone through the addition of new schools.
2008-2009: Plan updated: Language improved for clarity and understandability, term “attractor” changed to “magnet.” Reference to racial and ethnic guidelines and racial isolation as assignment criteria removed or modified. Constitutional class size limits added for school instructional capacity. In-zone transfers restricted and precluded in final quarter of school year.
2009-2010: Plan updated: Distinguished between sibling guarantee and sibling preference. Sub-zone preference implemented in 2006-2007 eliminated. Processing of eligibility pools was shortened to fifteen days after school year begins. Employee waivers restricted based upon capacity and impact on class size. Dunbar High redefined as East Zone school with multi-zone magnet seats. Shift in geographic sub-zone boundary between E-1 and E-2 resulted in Manatee Elementary and Oak Hammock Middle becoming E-2 schools.
2010-2012: No recommended changes
2012-2013: Plan updated: Added preference for middle school students applying to specific high schools, language clarifying that similar magnet application preferences end when schools are no longer magnets, a second proximity zone preference for elementary and middle school students residing between approximately 2 and 5 miles from each school, and committed District to study potential for adding an additional assignment preference based upon parent involvement.
2013-2014: Plan updated: Added high school Cambridge Academy Program (AICE) as a choice magnet requiring specific entrance criteria.
2014-2015: Plan updated: Clearly defined the various types of waivers, documented waiver qualification information, and updated the waiver review/approval process. Updates also included establishment of systematic enrollment deadlines for special high school programs to occur prior to batch lottery process and a move to a longer, single formal school choice application period followed by a single batch lottery assignment process.
2015-2016: Plan updates for the 2016-2017 include a restructuring of the content of the plan as well as the addition of relevant information to make the document easier to read and comprehend and updated to reflect the change of James Stephens International Academy (K-8) to James Stephens International Academy (K-5).
2016-2017: Plan updates for the 2017-2018 were made to include school program updates removing STEM from Tortuga Elementary, adding Cambridge to East Lee County High, piloted programs, addition of relevant information and changes due to House Bill 7029-Florida Open Enrollment Law.