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Students won't lose spots at schools of choice, board decides

Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 11:27:28-04

BOISE — When you last heard from Lori Wielenga, she and other parents of children at schools of choice had to make a difficult decision.

"Parents either had to decide to send their child in person to the school, or they had to forfeit their place at the school of choice," said Wielenga, whose child is enrolled at a school of choice.

Idaho News 6 previously uncovered that children enrolled at schools of choice would lose their spots if they needed to attend school virtually this upcoming semester.

Not anymore.

"This option basically states we would hold those positions regardless of a medical need or not, and those students could just return," said a board member at West Ada.

The decision to revise the policy comes after six weeks of letter writing from Wielenga and other parents in the district.

"When Channel 6 got the word out, all the other families, what we realized was a lot of families had no clue who at a school of choice that if they chose the online option, they were forfeiting their place," said Wielenga.

"A bunch of like-minded parents and families linked arms and started writing letters to the district, administration, the individual administration at the schools, the trustees," said Wielenga.

The Wielengas watched the decision unfold in real-time.

"We were thrilled there were so many parents on a phone call, text, and we were all cheering," said Wielenga.

Under the revision, parents can choose to send their students back at the semester break or end of the year.

"She's not going to have to worry that when she goes back to her school of choice that half of her families and students and friends aren't going to be there anymore," said Wielenga,

"She knows when she goes back, she's guaranteed to be welcomed into the same community."

The Wielengas are now getting ready for the upcoming Virtual Schoolhouse semester.

"We had to order our supplies off Amazon. They were delivered to our front door," said Wielenga.

Her daughter Ella is ready to go back to Galileo Stem Academy when it's safer.

The board revised part of the policy verbiage to say students at schools with capped enrollment, like Hillsdale, will not lose their spots if they opt for the virtual schoolhouse this year. The decision was made unanimously by the board.