Students Object to AUHSD Transfer Policy
As a result of a 2018 change in the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) transfer policy, a group of current and former AUHSD students have formed the Acalanes Union Coalition for Transfer Students (AUCTS). The organization hopes to convince the district to reverse its policy, which substantially lowers the amount of inter district transfer students. To that end, AUCTS held a rally Aug. 4 outside of the AUHSD offices in Lafayette where speakers called for change.
In the summer of 2018, the AUHSD Governing Board, responsible for Miramonte, Acalanes, Campolindo and Las Lomas High Schools, changed the policy for incoming students transferring from outside of the district. Transfer students already at these schools were not affected, but the only new interdistrict transfers allowed needed to have a parent working for the AUHSD or one of the other K-8 partner districts.
“My understanding is that the reason for the policy change, which decreased the number of transfer students, was done primarily because the state stopped funding interdistrict transfer students to the AUHSD due to a complicated change in our local property taxes,” said AUHSD board member Chris Severson, who was not a member of the board at the time of the change.
AUCTS members feel the benefits of having interdistrict transfers outweighs the financial considerations. “The cost of accepting a set number of transfer students per year into some of our under-enrolled schools in AUHSD is a minimal cost in comparison to the long-term community and financial benefits,” Emily Skilling, former AUHSD transfer and member of AUCTS said.
At the Aug. 5 AUHSD board meeting via Zoom, students expressed their opinions to the board, ultimately convincing them to include the transfer policy on the agenda for the Sept. 16 board meeting.
AUCTS also addressed the board during its discussions about updating and strengthening its racial equity policy.
“They (AUCTS) have suggested that the board does not wish to truly pursue racial equity unless we increase interdistrict transfer students. The reality is that a large majority of AUSHD students are white, a large majority of interdistrict transfer students are white, and the percent of minority students in the district is not meaningfully changed by even pre-2018 levels of interdistrict transfer students,” Board Member Severson said.
AUCTS members Morganstein and Lakhotia wrote a 36-page report refuting AUHSD arguments for the transfer policy change. In the report, they assert interdistrict transfers do make a racial difference writing that 58% of students of color at Miramonte are interdistrict transfers and that in 2017-2018 (the last year before the restrictions on transfers), 52.9% of inter district transfers were students of color. Additionally, the report includes a poll of 362 students from AUHSD schools. Of the students surveyed, 80.1% said they disagreed with the transfer policy change, and only 7.7% of students said they agreed with it.
“If I couldn’t transfer to Miramonte, I would be going to a high school much closer to my house but located in a community with a bigger influence of drugs and violence. Being a transfer student allows me to escape from that route and better myself and my education,” Miramonte senior and transfer student Adrien Argast said.