Jefferson County passes resolution seeking school choice

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala (WIAT)– Jefferson County students may soon be able to choose the school they attend.

Students would be able to choose their school based on programs offered, instead of being zoned for a specific school based on geographical location.

The Jefferson County Board of Education passed a resolution to move forward at Monday’s board meeting.

“We are proposing a limited choice option that will allow children and students to select between 3 or 4 schools and to pursue those speciliazed programs that are best suited for their aptitudes,” Jefferson County Superintendent Craig Pouncey says, “So it’s going to be an opportunity that kids can really follow their passion and not be bound based on a limited program within the school which they reside.”

All students K-12 would have options.

Pouncey says elementary students would be able to choose between a leadership academy, performing arts school, or STEM academy.

High school students would choose schools based on academic programs or career tech.

“It’s a great opportunity. It’s the first time in the State of Alabama that anybody has attempted to do this, so we’re really looking forward, and our board is committed to making student assignment a thing of choice and opportunity that will enhance the continued improvement of schools in Jefferson County,” says Pouncey.

Monday’s resolution would replace a 1971 Federal desegregation order if approved and allow the school system to obtain unitary status.

“We’ve got  a number of other districts in the state, that if taken, the committment to reassure the public that we no longer harbor any vestiges of segregation, and that our goal is singly to ensure that all children can excel and do the best they possibly can do.”

Pouncey says the school board has worked closely with the NAACP Legal Defense and Department of Justice in creating the resolution.

The resolution will go before US District Judge Madeline Haikala. 

Depending on Judge Haikala’s decision, there will be a “proving period” that Pounceys says could last 4-5 years.

“I think what the board approved today was their commitment to the public that they are willing to do whatever it takes to move the district forward.”

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