Students lose choice of school districts

Angela Yang, Asst. News Editor

This may be the last school year that 25 percent of  Diamond Bar High School undergraduates  will be permitted to attend school in the Walnut Valley Unified School District.

After July 2017, all students living out-of-district will lose the right to receive an education at a school of their choice.

Senate Bill 1432, known as the District of Choice bill, has granted parents the freedom to select the most suitable educational setting for their children regardless of their place of residence for the last 22 years.

Forty-seven school districts in California, including WVUSD, declared themselves part of the DoC program so they could accept out-of-district transfers without requiring permission from student’s home districts.

The bill expired in the California State Assembly Committee on Appropriations on Aug. 31 under chairmanship of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

Gonzalez told ABC News that she believes the bill “exacerbates the unequal system of haves-and-have-nots in our public schools and that the most disadvantaged schools and the students they serve get left behind.”

Walnut Valley Unified School District, one of the most prominent District of Choice districts in California with over 3,400 students enrolled under the program, will be drastically affected by this sudden change.

According to Assistant Superintendent Michael R. Hodson, potential consequences of the situation include the loss of $28 million in revenue, the layoff of 136 full-time teachers and closure of five schools.

There are 751 out-of-district students at DBHS, including seniors.

“Technically DoC is gone,” DBHS Principal Reuben Jones said. “There has to be new legislation that will be proposed with new legislators, so it’s a whole new process that will have to take place.”

A compromise bill was proposed by Gonzalez to allow current District of Choice students to stay until they graduate from their current school.

This legislation, known as Assembly Bill 1771, did not pass.

A new bill could be proposed when the legislature reconvenes in January.

A rally orchestrated by WVUSD parents took place on Aug. 24 to protest the removal of the District of Choice program.

Speakers included parents and students affected by the bill, as well as State Sen. Bob Huff, sponsor of the bill, and district Superintendent Robert Taylor.

A petition launched by parent Nancy Kim has also gained a considerable amount of support, with over 5,200 online and written signatures accumulated.

“The political fight is just beginning,” Jones said. “Because if [Gonzalez] still feels that DoC is not good for equality, then that’s probably not going to change until more and more people get the word out that this is good for equality and it’s good for our kids and our programs.”