Hoover BOE discusses rezoning plan transfers

HOOVER – Members of the Hoover Board of Education announced that they have received approval from a federal judge for their transfer plan at a special called board meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23.

According to Hoover Superintendent Kathy Murphy, the transfer plan will allow eligible students who have been affected by the system’s 2018-2019 rezoning plan to apply and qualify to transfer to a school other than the one for which they are zoned.

“It’s not only an expectation of the Court that our schools continue to reflect the rich diversity that is Hoover, it’s our own personal expectation for our schools,” Murphy wrote in a letter to parents. “We have a large, dynamic, growing community that continually evolves.”

Transfers are limited to the following categories: racial segregation transfer, hardship transfer or employee transfer.

According to the official court order, a racial desegregation transfer will be permitted between certain schools if there is space available and if those schools are outside of a range of 5 percentage points lower or higher than the district-wide racial composition for African American students.

Racial desegregation transfers that are approved for the 2018-2019 academic year will be effective until the student moves up to a different school that teaches different grade levels from the one the student was transferred to.

While not all Hoover City Schools will be a part of the racial desegregation process, the ones that will be include Bluff Park Elementary School, Bumpus Middle School, Deer Valley Elemtary School, Green Valley Elementary School, Greystone Elementary School, Simmons Middle School and Trace Crossings Elementary School.

To approve hardship transfers, the order stated that a student or the student’s family must demonstrate “a substantial, extraordinary and compelling hardship; the hardship is unique to his/her family and the hardship necessitates the assignment to a school other than the school to which the student is zoned.”

The order stated that HCS must consider whether the hardship is valid, whether the receiving school is best equipped to address or alleviate the hardship, whether other students with similar hardships had transfer applications approved and whether the transfer of students with similar hardships proved to be beneficial.

Situations that would warrant the approval of a hardship transfer include the incarceration of a parent, the terminal illness of a parent, a natural disaster and health problems in a student that would require them to attend a certain school.

Each hardship transfer application will be reviewed independently, and if granted, will only be valid for one school year. Transfer students must re-apply each year.

Employee transfers will apply to the children of full-time HCS employees who are in the custody of the employee. The school to which the student transfers must have enough space and must be within the high school feeder pattern in which the employee works.

While grandfathering in high school juniors and seniors was not discussed in the official court order, Murphy said the board is in favor of allowing them to continue attending the school where they were originally zoned.

So far, she said almost 750 students were given the opportunity to stay at their original school. A total of 361 opted to stay and 156 have opted to attend the school they were rezoned for. Murphy said HCS is reaching back out to parents and schools to receive responses from the remaining students.

To help students and parents better understand the rezoning process, Hoover City Schools set up a hotline in April. HCS Student Services Coordinator Wayne Smith said the hotline has been busy with concerned parents.

“One thing I can guarantee them is that they’re going to love their new school,” Smith said.

A transfer application was sent to HCS parents and is available online at Hoovercityschools.net. For more information about rezoning, call the hotline at 439-1688 on weekdays from 8-11 a.m.

During the meeting, the board also voted to approve the rezoning of 58 employees throughout Hoover City Schools.

Murphy commended the employees affected by the rezoning for continuing to work diligently during the adjustment.

“We do believe we did the best we could,” Murphy said. “Maybe they weren’t all happy and excited, but they did everything they could to support our students and our school district.”