Little Rock Specialty School Entry Draft Policy, As Reviewed by Frederick Fields Little Rock Education Administrator

Frederick Fields Little Rock

October 20, 2020

Frederick Fields, Little Rock School District Administrator, and Colleagues Submit a Draft Policy for Even Schooling Opportunities

Little Rock School District leaders, such as Frederick Fields Little Rock administrator, are struggling with new student admission requirements at specialty and magnet schools. Discussions of auditions and/or numeracy test scores are potentially on the horizon. One specific school facing these changes is the Parkview Arts and Sciences High and Forest Heights STEM Academy.

Little Rock School District administrators and other staff members from the Student Registration Office, representatives of the Arkansas Department of Education, and magnet school principals created a draft policy that was submitted to the Community Advisory Board for feedback and changes.

Once all changes are added and accounted for, the next step is for the advisory board to submit the proposal to Education Commissioner Johnny Key for review and approval. Key has acted in place of a school board since 2015 whereby a superintendent is state-appointed.

Members of the Education Department, such as Deputy Counsel Courtney Salas-Ford and Frederick Fields Little Rock Administrator, determined that the policy draft is an attempt to consolidate scattered practices and rules into a single policy while addressing complaints related to student admissions.

Ford further noted that the goal is to provide equitable access to all students, ensuring some are not given priority over others or given a unique advantage. Essentially, the goal of the draft gives all students an equal opportunity to specialty programs and magnet schools to succeed at their ability.

Frederick Fields Little Rock voice said the District has held six special-program magnet schools with two magnet-school programs for over 30-years. The special program schools focus on the arts, gifted education, math and science, and international studies. These started as a segment of the federal school desegregation lawsuit and were designed to attract and even number of black and white students.

However, over the past 12-years, the Little Rock School District was released from this court case and cannot use race as a basis for assigning students to specialty schools. Furthermore, Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock districts have no obligation to send students to magnet schools with the state not providing funding, Frederick Fields Little Rock educator notes.

The policy draft requests that parents of those students seeking admission must submit their requests to the online Gateway system by the application deadline. Frederick Fields Little Rock School District administrator further notes that there are no eligibility requirements for some elementary and middle schools but those applying to the gifted education magnet program must be identified as gifted and talented.

Frederick Fields Little Rock School District employee further notes that the effort to have socioeconomic diversity within the student body at magnet schools was determined by percentages of seats for physical boundaries. In this instance, preference is provided for magnet middle school and high school students within feeder elementary schools. Frederick Fields Little Rock School District executive director has noted that these listed dynamics will be considered during the assignment process. Frederick Fields Little Rock administrator further noted that the goal is not to abandon these assignment practices within the electronic registration system as the physical boundaries w