JCPS student assignment plan proves controversial

JCPS student assignment plan proves controversial

Reece Gunther

Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) is nationally credited for having an exemplary student assignment plan that serves as a model for school districts across the United States, but locally, people aren’t so quick to give the district praise.

One in five parents cited the district’s assignment plan as “effective” and two in five were uncertain about its effectiveness.

Black parents were less likely to say that they are satisfied with the assignment plan when compared to white parents. White parents, however, were less likely to indicate that diversity was important to them.

JCPS has been looking into potential changes to the student assignment plan for months, and the investigation into the plan was propelled by the district’s settlement with the Kentucky Department of Education. Under the settlement, the district has to implement changes surrounding plans like student assignment by fall 2019.

Confusion is certainly an issue parents face with the current student assignment plan. Some parents believe that students are bused based on the first letter of their last name, which is untrue. Even more parents were inclined to believe that racial quotas are the main deciding factor within the student assignment plan, which is misleading.

Race does play a role in the district’s current assignment plan but it is not the only determining factor since things like income and other diversity factors play a role in the assignment of students.

Parents are more inclined to advocate for student choice and access to high-quality education for all students. One third of parents said that they want to be able to send their children to the closest (“neighborhood”) school.

JCPS’ high school boundaries under the current student assignment plan.

Students, however, seem to have vastly differing opinions from the parents who took the survey. Most notably, only 18 percent of students wanted the ability to go to their neighborhood school and students feel more positively about the student assignment plan as a whole.

Regardless of the praise from school districts across the country, the district will almost certainly make notable changes to the student assignment plan as more and more complaints, dissatisfaction and lawsuits are hurled at JCPS.

A recent lawsuit from the parent of two Crosby Middle School students alleges that the district’s assignment plan violates the Supreme Court’s ruling on racially-motivated busing and the 14th Amendment pertaining to civil rights.

The lawsuit claims that the students suffered injures from a hit-and-run, perpetuated by forced busing, with bullying also mentioned in the suit. The two students live a 10-minute walk away from their closest neighborhood school.

Lawsuits like these signal a growing upset over the intricacies of the student assignment plan, which is only confirmed by the recent survey. The district will use the results of the survey to help shape the changes that are made to the student assignment plan for the rest of 2019. Parents and students are unlikely to see major changes to the plan before the 2020-2021 school year.