OPEN ENROLLMENT: Some DMPS Parents Unhappy

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Until this year, Tamara Donnelly was happy with where her second grader was going to school.

“I’ve been working with Findley the last two years getting him structure and where he needs to be,” said Donnelly.

This year, she has another child starting kindergarten.

Recently the family moved four blocks away and into a new school boundary for Cattell Elementary.

She applied to open enroll back to Findley, but was denied due to a district rule that puts a limit on the number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

“I don’t think it’s fair to deny people because of their income,” Donnelly told Channel 13 News.

Donnelly isn’t alone.

The district has received 1,500 open enrollment requests this year and has approved about 50% of them.

Phil Roeder, the director of community relations for the district says the rule regarding free or reduced lunch fosters diversity in Des Moines schools.

“We place a lot of value on the diversity of this district,” said Roeder.

Another reason requests for open enrollment are often denied is that schools also can only hold so many students.

Des Moines schools have added 1,000 students in two years and buildings are filling up.

The district is addressing that with facility upgrades.

The new Edmunds Elementary is bigger than the old one, and classrooms are being added at schools like Merrill and Brody.

Still, Roeder says it’s not easy to give every family exactly what it wants.

“What parents want for their children is a top priority and if that doesn’t happen, they’re not going to be happy,” said Roeder.

Parents can begin applying for open enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year on September 1st.

You can find more information by visiting the link.


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