Dance puts Baltimore County magnet policy change on hold

Baltimore County Public Schools SuperintendentS. Dallas Danceannounced Tuesday that the school system's recently-enacted magnet school policy change will be put on hold until a review can be completed.

Dance made the announcement at the school board meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7.

"Basically, the bottom line is there won't be any changes until his review is complete," said BCPS spokesman Charles Herndon on Wednesday. "(Dance) indicated that he wanted to be very deliberate, that this was a complex issue and he wanted to be very thorough."

A day after his first school board meeting last month, Dance announced that staff would review the policy change, which was put in place by former superintendent Joe Hairston. The change had ended the priority placement policy for incoming kindergarten students with siblings already in the magnet program, and for students within the historic walking boundary of Cromwell Valley Elementary School.

During that meeting, Dance heard from several Cromwell Valley parents who urged him and the board to reconsider the changes, and Dance quickly announced that the policy would be reviewed.

Herndon said that at last night's school board meeting, a few more parents spoke out against the change, and Dance announced that they would be put on hold.

"He has certainly heard from many of those who this would impact, including many of the folks around the Cromwell Valley community," Herndon said. "Both he and the board are very cognizant of the concerns they have, and they want to weigh them very carefully and make sure they're considered in any kind of review that takes place."

The school board voted on the change in early April of this year. Parents were informed a month later that beginning in 2015-2016, sibling priority placement would end, and in 2013-2014, the walker priority would be done as well.

County Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson and lobbied on behalf of the parents, said last night that he was happy with the decision, and it reflects a responsiveness Dance is showing to community concerns.

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