Burlington, NC -- A 40-year-old policy aimed at bringing diversity to local schools will soon be reversed.
Alamance-Burlington Schools will change a requirement for students to be bussed to schools outside of their local zone to balance the number of white and black children.
When Kassidy Flynn signed up for kindergarten four years ago, her mother, Carolyn Flynn, went to the wrong school.
"I went to Hillcrest Elementary to put her into school and when I did, they said I was not in the school district. I was two houses out of the school district," she said.
So instead of going to Hillcrest five minutes away, Kassidy goes to Newlin Elementary.
"It takes me 15 minutes to get across town," she said.
It's because of a 1970 court order requiring students in the northern part of Burlington to go to schools in other parts of the city, according to Steve Van Pelt, vice-chair of the Alamance-Burlington School System. It sent students to Newlin, Smith and Grove Park elementary schools.
"The original plan was in place because all of this area was basically minority at the time and the court order wanted to see an equalization," he said.
That policy is now being reversed and the Operations Research and Education Laboratory (OREd) is looking at options at how to make it work.
"The courts decided that we could have unitary status, which means that we could decide, make decisions on where these students could go to school," he said.
"That would be great. It would be more convenient to the parents that are in the right district to go to the district that they belong to," Flynn said.
Based on 2009-2010 numbers, 375 students would be impacted. Updated numbers will be part of research into reversing the policy.
Van Pelt said the new policy could change the populations at schools and make the race statistics unbalanced.
"We've had some school board, some members, that have expressed that they don't want that to happen and have asked administration to ask OREd for some options there too," he said.
"I think no matter what school it is, it's going to be hard to balance the kids and their racial colors," Flynn said.
The school board will hear options in October for where to send the students. Van Pelt said he hopes a final decision can be made in December. The new policy takes effect next school year.
It's unclear if parents will be allowed to choose to keep their children in their current school
Van Pelt said it's also unclear how the policy will impact middle schools.
He said ABSS is one of the last districts in North Carolina to make the change.
Guilford County Schools reversed its policy in 1999. Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools has a diversity policy.
"Our zones are not based on race, but rather are designed to diversify the population at each school so that students may choose out of or into a particular school that may or may not be geographically as diverse an area as we would hope.
A way of looking at it is that if we have one residential area that is predominantly a minority population, our goal would be that there is a school in that zone they may choose that has a different demographic basis so that both schools may enjoy more diversity," said David Snapp, director of student assignment for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools.
WFMY News 2