In Fairfax, kids aren’t being transported away from their neighborhood school for integration, but the school board did decide to change attendance boundaries to balance enrollments among schools, and took socioeconomic integration into account in its decision. Many of the parents whose children were assigned to South Lakes High School were not happy. South Lakes is under-enrolled by 700 students and has a newly remodeled facility, but it also has a higher percent of low-income students.
Parents filed a lawsuit to stop the school board, arguing, among other things, that the school board overstepped its bounds in trying to balance socioeconomics among the schools. After losing the lawsuit, parents have been requesting transfers to get their kids into their old assigned schools. Many parents are citing the lack of AP classes at South Lakes as a reason for their transfer requests.
As this situation makes clear, changing attendance boundaries is politically difficult, particularly when it increases socioeconomic integration. But this situation also illustrates why socioeconomic integration may be important – if these parents can raise $125,000 to sue the school board, they probably also have the clout to get more AP classes into South Lakes High School, and that’s the kind of parental involvement that improves the quality of education for all students.