I wrote yesterday “December 13th is the deadline for parents to opt in: 2020-21 School Placements and Redistricting Exemptions” after seeing the email sent out to parents from Howard County Public School System.
I immediately began thinking how would parents that have little to no access to online resources (like email or to the website for the school system) get this information or sign up to opt in to the exemptions and stay at their current schools? The email sent out was very specific that in order to opt in you must apply online.
I had a recent email exchange with Brian Bassett, Senior Communications Strategist / Media Relations, Howard County Public School System and asked the question if paper forms would be sent home to parents. Here is what he sent back (and he stated it was ok to post this information to my readers):
Good question and I’m happy to speak if my response generates more questions. It’s a big process with lots of parts!
There is not a paper form for families to complete in order to make their exemption selection. However, we know that families have technology, language and other challenges and require support. Hundreds of parents have already made their exemption selection as a result of the email that was sent yesterday. We know that other families need a more personalized approach to help them through the process.
School staff have already begun calling and reaching out in other ways to families in their school who have a child that qualifies for an exemption. They are helping parents/guardians understand why they are being asked to make a selection and what their choices are. Then, with the approval of the parent, school staff can actually make the selection for them.
We feel that this proactive personal outreach is far more effective than a paper version of the form.
School principals, assistant principals, front office staff, liaisons and other support staff are all prepared to assist their families and phone calls home began yesterday. We are confident that every family with a child that qualifies for an exemption will be able to make an informed choice by December 13.
If people have any concerns, questions or need assistance, they should contact their child’s current school.
I hope that this helps.
Senior Communication Strategist
Howard County Public School System
I want to thank Brian Bassett for answering my question and allowing me to share the answer with my readers.
I am still a little concerned that due to the very quick turn around to get this information back to HCPSS (December 13) that some people might get missed in this process…especially those in polygons that were affected VERY late in the decision making process.
I believe I read that the redistricting opt in process may be discussed this evening at the Howard County Board of Education meeting. I would recommend tuning in to that meeting this evening to hear what is said between the HoCoBOE and HCPSS staff.
If modifications or changes are made to the process this evening I will try and get out an update on the blog tomorrow.