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How to get into a zoned public school

Apply for a special attendance permit, which is for students with a hardship, medical necessity or limited course offerings at an assigned school.


© St. Petersburg Times, published October 29, 2000

What if you want to attend a particular public school but you are not zoned for it?

Here's how you might get into a zoned public school that you are not scheduled to attend.

In some cases, the school district will grant a special attendance permit for a student who wants to attend a school that's not his or her zoned school. SAPs are granted if the student has a hardship, a medical necessity or limited course offerings at the assigned school. As a professional courtesy, the district also grants permits to its employees, but only to the site where the person is a full-time employee.

How do I apply?

Applications will be available at any school beginning in February.

The district normally expects applications to be filled out by custodial parents and legal guardians. However, there are recent policy statements that allow primary care persons other than parents or guardians to proceed with SAP applications.

The application must be completed in the presence of the principal or a designee.

The deadline is the end of the school year. The district will accept applications after that, but if applicants want to have a decision prior to the beginning of school, they have to apply before the last day of school.

If your request is based on medical reasons, you will need to fill out a medical form and have it signed by the child's doctor. The district has a physician to review the request for validity.

An application for each child must be submitted.

HOW LONG IS THE PERMIT VALID? For one school year. Then you must reapply.

FOR WHAT REASONS ARE PERMITS GRANTED? Some students need to go to a particular school to be close to a caregiver, a particular doctor or a parent's job. Then there are times when parents want their children to take a particular class not available at the assigned school. In other cases, there's professional courtesy for district employees working at a particular school who want their children at that school.

WHAT ARE MY CHANCES OF RECEIVING A PERMIT? It depends on that school's population and, to some degree, your ethnicity. The schools have to comply with federally mandated desegregation guidelines, which limit the number of black students at any school. So if you are black and want to go to a school that already has the maximum number of black students, then you are out of luck. There are few exceptions. If you are white and apply to that same school, then chances are good that you'll get in. Siblings get no special treatment.

Between Feb. 2 and Sept. 15, administrators received 7,396 permit applications; 5,795 were approved, 1,556 were denied, and 45 were being processed.

WHEN MAY A PERMIT BE CANCELED? The district may cancel permits upon the request of the school for which a SAP has been obtained. The school can present a request for cancellation on the basis of the student's academic standing, discipline or attendance record.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON'T GET A SPECIAL ATTENDANCE PERMIT? You can appeal to the SAP Appeals Committee, but its decision is final.

CAN I GET A PERMIT INTO A MAGNET OR FUNDAMENTAL SCHOOL? No. You must abide by those admission procedures.

ADVANTAGES: You can select a school with a particular curriculum or environment.

DISADVANTAGES: Permits may be difficult to obtain. SAPs are valid only for a year. Parents must provide transportation.

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