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Ripon board fears low performing students could flock to RUSD
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RIPON - The new Romeo Bill – an open enrollment act – with potential serious effects on the Ripon Unified School District drew concerned reactions from trustees at their Monday night meeting.

The legislation approved in January, Senate Bill X5 4, is a new law that attempts to make California schools more competitive in the race for federal dollars by allowing students from failing school districts to move to educational facilities within the state that are showing better student results.  Ripon has no sanctioned schools due to achievement results.

The California Department of Education is now required to make a list of the 1,000 schools that are seen to be continually low in their student achievements.  

The Open Enrollment Act  allows a parent or guardian of any student attending a below par school to initiate a transfer of their student to any school with a higher grade point average (API) without regard to the school or to the district boundaries.

Ripon district superintendent Louise Nan explained that the state can only name 10 percent of schools in any particular community as being low performing.  The problem is accentuated by the fact that most of the lower achieving schools are in clusters and are located in places like Oakland and Richmond.

Any parent of a child in any of those lower schools can come here to Ripon and attempt to transfer their child by September 13, Nan said.  

“We are going to have more challenges than most because we have to take care of our transfer list,” she added.  Ripon Schools already has an open enrollment policy within the community in its attempt to keep families together in one school.  Some students have to be put onto a transfer list until an opening arises in the family’s target school.

Also on the list, that might conceivably transfer students to Ripon,  are schools in Stockton, Manteca, Weston Ranch and Modesto.  

Trustee Mike Fisher said his additional concern would be for students moving into the district where the Ripon schools might be at capacity and not have room for them because of the outside transfers.  He added that the district is close to its maximum attendance right now.

Nan interjected that the Ripon district can’t turn away a Ripon resident because they had accepted an out of the community transfer student.  

In establishing a district policy she urged that trustees allow “sufficient room” in the census of the schools to provide for Ripon children first.  

Fisher asked if the district would have transportation responsibility for the out of area students that might be moving into the Ripon schools.  Nan responded that they would not.

The responsibility of the school district for any Special Education students coming into the Ripon schools would be all encompassing, however.  The district must now formulate policy immediately as to how they will be able to provide for any incoming students from low achieving schools outside the Ripon community.

In other business Ripon High School senior Brandon Petraitis was seated as the student representative to the board of trustees by Michelle Ambrose who recently graduated with her class.

Ambrose had Petraitis raise his right hand in front of the board and take the oath of office identical to the one board members recite when they are officially seated.  She held the board position for a year and a half and was highly lauded by the board for her service.

As the student representative he will be permitted to take part in all open session board business meeting, cast a preferential vote that is recorded but not counted, and make or second motions on agenda items.

School district nurse Judy Anderson was credited for the work she accomplished in responding to the H1N1 flu epidemic warning following a recent district-wide recognition by the San Joaquin County Public Health Services.  

At this week’s board meeting new staff members for the coming year were welcomed by the trustees.

They included Sue Harper, coordinator of student services;  Leigh Amistadi, intern psychologist; Jennifer Adolfson, fourth grade job share teacher at Weston Elementary School; Jesse Cavlo, sixth grade teacher at Weston Elementary School; Devan Costa-Cargill, autism behavior intervention specialist; Ashley Ezell, PE at Park View School and Christina Greutink, a new science teacher at Ripon High School.

A Ripon School sixth grade teacher was lauded Monday night to have been nominated to the San Joaquin County Office of Education as a candidate for the county teacher of the year.