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No Educator Left Behind: Choice and Capacity

No Educator Left Behind is a series providing answers from the U.S. Department of Education to questions about the federal No Child Left Behind Act and how it will affect educators. If you have a question about No Child Left Behind, send an e-mail to Ellen Delisio, and we will submit your question to the Department of Education.

Question:

What if a local education agency finds that it does not have the physical capacity within its schools to accept transferring students under the school choice policy?

U.S. Department of Education:

A local education agency (LEA) may not use lack of capacity to deny students the option to transfer.

This is a change from the Title I public school choice policy that applied prior to the enactment of the No Child Left Behind Act. The 2001 Appropriations Act provided that if an LEA demonstrated to the satisfaction of the state education agency that it lacked the capacity to provide all students with the option to transfer to another public school, a school choice option could be denied. This language does not appear in the No Child Left Behind Act.

The bottom line, then, is that every student enrolled in a Title I school in need of improvement who wishes to transfer to a school that is not in need of improvement must have that opportunity. If an LEA does not have sufficient capacity in the schools it has offered under its choice plan to accommodate the demand for transfers, the LEA must create additional capacity or provide choices of other schools.

If capacity becomes an issue after a district serves priority students, then the policies in the public school choice guidance document still apply.

Read previous questions and answers in our No Educator Left Behind archive.

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