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Clearing up some misconceptions

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Beaufort County Schools, to clarify current misconceptions regarding school assignments and transportation within our system.

At this time, Beaufort County Schools will not be providing transportation to the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience in Washington County. We are simply making our students aware of this opportunity and will release them from Beaufort County Schools to attend if they are accepted into the program.

Students who are accepted into the Beaufort County Early College High School ride existing bus routes to their original home high school. From there, they are shuttled to the school site at Beaufort County Community College. The Beaufort County Early College High School is a public school, as are the other 13 schools within Beaufort County Schools. We are charged with providing transportation to public schools, with only a few exceptions.

Transportation is not provided for students who choose to transfer outside their assigned attendance area, unless the situation involves a student moving in a school-of-choice situation. This means, under federal guidelines, we must provide students at one school the option to attend another school, if they wish.

I have provided for you the explanation, directly from the United States Department of Education, of what school of choice means.

Children are eligible for school choice when the Title I school they attend has not made adequate yearly progress in improving student achievement — as defined by the state — or two consecutive years or longer and is therefore identified as needing improvement, corrective action or restructuring. Any child attending such a school must be offered the option of transferring to a public school in the district — including a public charter school — not identified for school improvement, unless such an option is prohibited by state law. No Child Left Behind requires that priority in providing school choice be given to the lowest achieving children from low-income families. As of the 2002-03 school year, school choice is available to students enrolled in schools that have been identified as needing improvement under the ESEA as the statute existed prior to the enactment of No Child Left Behind.

Anyone with questions regarding the operations of Beaufort County Schools is welcome to contact us via the website, www.beaufort.k12.nc.us, or call our Central Services office at 252-946-6593. Our staff will gladly find the appropriate person to answer your question.

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Don Phipps is superintendent of Beaufort County Schools.