MEDFORD, Ore. – Medford schools are closing their borders to students looking to enter or leave the district. The changes are due to new state law that school board members say leaves their hands tied.
New state policy as of march specifies that districts can’t in any way discriminate against transfer requests. Not only are districts like Medford prohibited from looking at race, gender, or orientation; they’re also prohibited from looking at things like family need, academic performance, or attendance.
School board members say that up until now they had reviewed transfers into or out of the district one-by-one.
If a student coming in had poor attendance records, they could admit them under certain attendance conditions. If an application made a particularly good case they could base their decision accordingly.
The new law, in an effort to create equal treatment, says that districts are only able to set overall transfer limits and then select students through an impartial lottery system.
School board members say that gave them no choice but to close the door entirely.
“Folks that live inside our district, we want to make sure we have space for them first,” said School Board Chair Jeff Thomas. “Until we have a facilities plan, there’s no way for us to be able to judge. If we just said everybody could come, what would we receive and what would be going out?”
The new policy is effective June 30th, meaning anyone who submitted a transfer request before then will be okay. Any students currently living outside the district and attending school in Medford will be allowed to stay until they graduate.
The law also allows districts to give individual consideration to students in emergencies or if their safety is at risk. And the rules only apply to transfers to or from other districts; transfers to different schools within the district will go on as normal.