Open transfer system bill moves to House

Mike Seals - March 2, 2021 10:03 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate approved legislation Tuesday expanding educational opportunities for Oklahoma families. Senate Bill 783, by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, modifies the Education Open Transfer Act to allow students to transfer to another public school district year-round. Pugh, who serves as the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the bill is desperately needed to provide families more flexibility to find the school that meets the needs of their child.

“No other state service is based on geography except K-12 education. We’re also not told where we can go to the doctor, to church or to shop; and it’s time to stop telling parents where their kids have to go to school,” Pugh said. “Having the proper education to meet a child’s unique needs is the most important choice a parent can make, because it will impact their path and success in life. Senate Bill 783 gives parents the power to make this important decision for their children instead of letting zip codes choose for them.”

Under SB 783, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, a student can transfer up to two times per school year to any public school district as long as the district has not exceeded its transfer capacity for that grade level and the student has no discipline or truancy issues. If the number of transfer applications exceeds a district’s capacity, applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Currently, there are only two short transfer windows available for students, and many of those requests are denied. The current system is too complicated and leaves families stuck because there is no opportunity to appeal their denied requests,” Pugh said. “This bill will create an appeals process at the local and state level to help empower families to take charge of their children’s education.”

Under SB 783, a denied transfer request can be appealed within 10 days to the receiving local school board. If the local board denies the appeal, another appeal can be filed within 10 days to the State Board of Education.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, applauded Pugh’s work to reform Oklahoma’s open transfer system.

“Every parent deserves the chance to seek the best educational opportunity for their student. A student’s zip code should not limit their ability to attend a great school. Open transfer is a long-overdue education reform that will help parents and students to pursue schooling that best meets the needs of an individual student,” Treat said. “I applaud Senator Pugh’s work on this important piece of education reform that will help our students get the best education possible. I see this as an important first step in putting parents in charge of their children’s education.”

The bill also directs district school boards to adopt a policy by Jan. 1, 2022, to determine how many students their district has the capacity to accept in each grade level per school. Capacity must be established and published on the school website and reported to the State Department of Education (SDE). Local school boards must also submit to the SDE the number of transfers approved and denied and the reason for denial. The agency will publish the data on its website and share it with the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability.

SB 783, which has the support of the State Chamber of Commerce, the SDE and various school advocacy groups, now moves to the House where Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow, is serving as the House principal author.

 

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