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Rescinded permit clouds 8-year-old's future school

He's now grandfathered at his new school, away from family and friends. An uncertain family has yet to list its choice of schools.

By MARY JANE PARK
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 23, 2002


From kindergarten through second grade, 8-year-old Adrian Bordeaux attended Pinellas Central Elementary School on a special attendance permit. His grandmother, Nova Redlow, teaches first grade there, and he went home with her after classes.

"It made for a very nice environment," said Adrian's mother, Amy Bordeaux, 36. The arrangement also gave some flexibility to her work schedule and that of her husband, Bruce, 42.

Last summer, Adrian's permit was rescinded, and he was assigned to third grade at Lakewood Elementary. The Bordeaux family is white, and the transfer was to help maintain racial balance at Lakewood.

"We were not happy about the move but decided we could live with it for one year," Amy Bordeaux said.

Adrian's case is not unique; permits for some black children whose parents teach at Lakewood also were lifted; they, too, were moved to other schools.

Because Adrian was new to Lakewood and separated from his grandmother and the friends he made at Pinellas Central, Amy Bordeaux said, "we had a very rough time of it. He was so out of his comfort zone."

His parents would prefer that he return to Pinellas Central next year, but there is no guarantee that he will: Extended grandfathering would apply to Lakewood, his current school, and to 74th Street Elementary, the school for which he was zoned on the date set by the Pinellas School Board.

Further, Amy Bordeaux said, "I have also learned that if we do not pick one of the grandfathered schools, there is no guarantee that we will get any of our five choices, because (the School Board) will still need to bus some children across zones for racial balancing.

"Had Adrian been at Pinellas Central this year, he could have finished his elementary years out with his friends and . . . with his grandmother. But now we do not have that option. There is nothing we can do except hope for the best and deal with what we get."

Extended grandfathering virtually guarantees a place for Adrian's 15-year-old brother, John, in the Business, Economic and Technology Academy (BETA) magnet program at Gibbs High School. John has attended magnet schools since second grade.

Amy Bordeaux said the family has yet to decide on a first choice for Adrian. They live in elementary attendance Area B, and they are considering Madeira Beach Elementary "because of what an outstanding school it is," she said. "But I've also read that schools like that aren't going to have places available. I haven't totally decided.

"The schools all tell you there's nothing they can do. I think the majority of people are just going to go with the grandfathered school, because it's a guarantee. It's almost too scary to do anything else."

-- Do you have a story about negotiating the new school choice plan? Please let Mary Jane Park know at 893-8267; fax 893-8675; e-mail park@sptimes.com; or write P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

-- Editor's Note: As an aid to understanding "controlled choice," we will continue to profile families who are in the hunt for the right school during the next several weeks.

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