New bills proposed to extend DOC program

Family+comes+to+protest+in+support+of+the+District+of+Choice+program.+The+district+of+choice+program+offers+out+of+district+kids+to+attend+the+school+of+their+choice+%28Nick+Burt%2FTalon%29.
Back to Article
Back to Article

New bills proposed to extend DOC program

Family comes to protest in support of the District of Choice program. The district of choice program offers out of district kids to attend the school of their choice (Nick Burt/Talon).

Family comes to protest in support of the District of Choice program. The district of choice program offers out of district kids to attend the school of their choice (Nick Burt/Talon).

Family comes to protest in support of the District of Choice program. The district of choice program offers out of district kids to attend the school of their choice (Nick Burt/Talon).

Family comes to protest in support of the District of Choice program. The district of choice program offers out of district kids to attend the school of their choice (Nick Burt/Talon).

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






At least three California State Assembly Bills regarding the District of Choice program are currently under review by the State Assembly Committee on Education.

The controversial school choice program allows students from any public school district and grade level to apply to a California District of Choice without a permit from the student’s district of residence.

Uncertainty over the program’s future arose after Senate Bill 1432, a bill proposed to continue the District of Choice program, died in the California state legislature Aug. 11, 2016.

“We have one year left with the last reauthorization bill to get another new bill passed this year,” superintendent Tony Knight said.

Oak Park Unified School District is the second largest District of Choice in California, with approximately 37 percent of its student population coming from outside the district. Originally instated to help balance the school budget, the DOC program has allowed the district to expand school activities and academic opportunities for students.

With the program’s July 1, 2017 expiration date, at least three new bills have been proposed, taking different approaches on the future of DOC.

Senate Bill 52, introduced by Senator Josh Newman of the 29th state district, would simply extend the DOC program in its current state until 2022.

Another bill, Assembly Bill 185, introduced by assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, chairman of the Assembly Education Committee, would also extend the program but with several differences — ensuring low-income students and students of various racial backgrounds access to choice enrollment.

These changes include a hard cap for the number of students able to transfer from a district of residence to a District of Choice and the mandate that all public information regarding school enrollment opportunities be available in all languages.

A third bill, Assembly Bill 1087, introduced by assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, was created in conjunction with Knight and OPUSD. The bill requires focused communication between the District of Choice and the following three parties: English Learners, students who qualify for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program and foster youth.

A rolling cap of 10 percent of a district of residence and an urgency clause — a clause allowing the bill to become law as soon as it receives two-thirds approval from both houses and a signature by the governor — are included as well.

It’s going to take a lot of phone calls, trips to Sacramento and persuasion to renew the program — but I think we can do it.”

— Tony Knight

“We came up with some ideas to address these issues, which included providing transportation for students on the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program,” Knight said.

The plan would provide students who qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program free transportation to the District of Choice if they live within a 10-mile radius of the district boundaries beginning July 1, 2020. Transportation would also be offered for students not on the lunch program and from certain areas, but with a fee attached.

“Currently, we give preference to siblings in the DOC lottery, but this idea would also give second preference to students on Free and Reduced Lunch program, and then those people would be provided free transportation to the school district with certain conditions,” Knight said.

Meanwhile, rising opposition from districts of residence threatens efforts to reauthorize the DOC program, according to Knight.

 “We found out recently that the districts of residence are thinking about hiring lobbyists to go fight the district of choice legislation and trying to figure out a way to hire their own lobbyist firm to defeat the bill,” Knight said.

To advocate the bill, Knight has prepared to work with lobbyists and assemblymembers at the state capital.

“It’s going to take a lot of phone calls, trips to Sacramento and persuasion to renew the program — but I think we can do it,” Knight said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email