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Dance Further Delays Magnet School Rule Decision

A Baltimore County Public Schools spokesman said the superintendent will need more time to study a rule which does away with priority placement for students with siblings in magnet programs.

Baltimore County families waiting on a decision about a controversial magnet school rule change will have to hold out for a good while longer.

Shortly before the end of his tenure, former Superintendent Joe Hairston announced in April 2012 the end of a rule that granted kindergartners automatic admission into elementary magnet schools their siblings attend, starting in the 2015-2016 school year. Parents of affected students appealed to Superintendent Dallas Dance soon afterward to overturn the rule change.

Dance said in August 2012 that he planned to make a recommendation to the Board of Education about the rule in February, but school system spokesman Mychael Dickerson said Wednesday that it will likely take another year before a decision is made.

"As [Dance] began to look at [the rule], he saw it was something that would need to be looked at more comprehensively," Dickerson said.

Dance is expected to present a report to the board by February, stating that he needs more time to investigate the rule change.

Parents of students at Cromwell Valley Elementary Magnet School in Towson were especially vocal about their opposition to the rule change, arguing that the change would be a burden on families. A group of them appealed to Dance and board members to reconsider Hairston's decision at a July board meeting.

District 5 Councilman David Marks supported the Cromwell parents, and additionally asked the board in June 2012 to codify a practice of giving magnet school admission priority to students living within walking distance.

Buzz Beeler February 01, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Councilman Marks, you have fought for your constituents but I think the truth of the matter is Dr. Dance is following the will of the county executive. Bryan Sheppard said as much when he admitted at a community meeting concerning the Eastwood School that the final decision on the matters of our schools in Dundalk will be made by Mr. Kamenetz. If Dr. Dance stands alone and basis his decisions on the best interest of the community they in turn will support him against those elected officials who see government as a private enterprise. A prime example of this is Eastwood Elementary School and the tightly nit community that surrounds it. This is diffidently not a good fit for a busy police precinct. I hardly think those folks will appreciate each shift of patrol officers testing their sirens, a requirement, day and night along with other disruptions to this tranquil community. Again the question is all about leadership!
Karl February 01, 2013 at 07:36 PM
Regardless of whom is calling the shots, putting it off another year without a good reason is a decision. It's an old political trick. Justice delayed is justice denied. Additionally, a decision to delay making a commitment for 18 months rather than the 6 month delay Dance promised last August will give Dance some breathing room before he lowers the boom. If he isn't going to change the rules, he could have announced it now. Judge by how a person looks and sounds, not by what he says; actions speak louder than words.
MC February 01, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Why shouldn't the ultimate decision be made by Mr. Kamenetz?
Buzz Beeler February 02, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Because this is a democracy not a dictatorship.
Lily February 04, 2013 at 02:08 AM
If he uses the time very very wisely, he might just be able to get rid of sibling placement and do it in a way no one will care. After all sibling placement only matters if there are waiting lists. When anyone who wants to go to a magnet school can then sibling priority placement is mute. If in the "delay" time he cures the problem of overcrowding in Towson such that CVE and Lutherville no longer have any waiting lists and the schools can meet demand then siblings won't need a priority placement to get in. They will get in just like everyone else. The lottery also would be mute. Really it's the overcrowding that is the real problem. In that situtation the delay could allow for the new school to be built etc. It could work that way. Maybe.

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