Beaufort News

Riverview lottery scheduled too soon, says district official

Riverview Charter School plans to conduct its enrollment lottery next week even though the Beaufort County Board of Education hasn't approved the school's procedures for meeting minority-enrollment targets set by the federal Office for Civil Rights.

A lottery to admit new students for next school year will be at 5 p.m. Monday, Riverview announced in a letter to applicants. That's one day before the Board of Education expects to review the lottery procedures it asked the Beaufort charter school to improve last month.

Any lottery held before that May 17 board meeting would not be sanctioned by the county school district, said Jackie Rosswurm, the district's human resources chief who serves as a liaison to Riverview. She said an agreement among the district, Riverview and OCR requires the school board to approve the lottery procedures.

Riverview director Alison Thomas said she didn't think the district had to formally sanction the lottery procedures. She said Riverview has kept the district apprised of its progress and listened to its feedback, but believes the lottery is primarily the school's responsibility.

Thomas said she wants to hold the lottery soon.

"We have such a limited enrollment and such a large applicant pool that we are very eager, for the benefit of the students and the benefit of their families, to notify the students who have been accepted," she said.

Robert White, chairman of the Riverview board, said he was unaware the county school board planned to approve the procedures before the lottery.

"We obviously want to try to do everything we can to have a working relationship with the Beaufort County school board, and this is certainly something we'll have to discuss and see where we go from here," he said.

The school board last month directed Riverview to reopen admissions for next school year so it could recruit additional minority students. The board also told Riverview to revise its lottery procedures to increase the probability of a more diverse enrollment.

OCR said in 2009 that Riverview's enrollment did not comply with the county school district's 1970 desegregation agreement. To comply, Riverview has to reduce its percentage of white students and increase the number of black students over the next few years.

Thomas said the school has revised its lottery procedures to meet the board's directives and expects the changes to bring the school closer to the OCR targets.

Riverview will enter minority applicants in the lottery multiple times to give them a better chance of being selected. It also will give preference to students who attend certain schools or live in certain areas of the county. All students who applied after the Jan. 31 deadline but by April 26 will be allowed to enter the lottery.