The so-called “sibling rule” will be a hot topic at today’s Dallas ISD board briefing. It’s a policy that gives siblings preferred admission to the district’s magnet schools, helping families to send their children to a single school.
The policy is in place at some of the district’s most sought-after magnet schools, such as Travis in Uptown, a fourth- through eighth-grade school for the “academically talented and gifted,” and Dealey Montessori in Preston Hollow, a pre-k through eighth-grade school with strict admission requirements.
Trustee Dan Micciche says he recently began hearing from parents who were frustrated that their child, who had scored high enough to be admitted to schools like Travis or Dealey, could not attend because their spots were taken by siblings of current students, who had scored lower.
“And then a review of the data,” Micciche says, which was eye-opening for him and will be presented at today’s briefing.
Micciche and Oak Cliff Trustee Eric Cowan are proposing a change that would eliminate the sibling rule. Micciche told this story to his constituents to illustrate the situation:
“Assume that Jill Smith earned admission to Vanguard School with a score of 90.
The following year her brother, Jack Smith, applies with a score of 80.
The minimum score for admission to a Vanguard School is 80. George Green applies with a score of 87 the same year that Jack Smith applies. George and Jack attend the same elementary school and have the same essay score.
George Green does not have a sibling at the Vanguard school. There is one slot left in the Vanguard School, and these are the only two students competing for it.
Jack Smith gets in. George Green does not.
The elimination of the sibling preference rule would change this result. The decision would instead be based on merit. If the proposal passes, in the example, George Green, who had a score of 87, would be admitted, and Jack Smith, who had a score of 80, would not.”
Micciche emphasizes that no voting will take place at today’s briefing, or even this month. “We are at the very start of the normal process for reviewing a proposed policy change,” he says.
If the proposal does eventually pass, it would take effect the 2017-2018 school year for fourth- through fifth-grade Vanguard programs, pre-K through eighth-grade magnet Montessori programs, and sixth- through eighth-grade academies. Students previously admitted to one of these programs under the sibling rule would be grandfathered.
“I think everyone on the board will be open to reviewing the data and hearing the pros and cons of how the rule has worked before making any final decisions,” Micciche says.