Beaufort News

Riverview lottery plans await OCR approval

Riverview Charter School plans to hold a lottery at 3 p.m. today to fill open slots at all grade levels, although it still has not received final approval for the lottery from the federal Office for Civil Rights.

"We are planning to proceed unless we hear otherwise" from OCR, Riverview director Alison Thomas said.

The school has retooled its lottery after the Beaufort County Board of Education rejected its original method as unlikely to reach diversity goals set by OCR.

Despite "long conversations" with OCR, school district human resources director and Riverview liaison Jackie Russwurm said, the procedure hasn't been approved by the federal agency.

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

The goal is to admit at least 15.7 percent black students this fall.

Thomas said the school "is trying to make every documented, good-faith effort to achieve OCR expectations."

Thomas said the school has weighted the lottery in a variety of ways, including favoring children raised by single parents, applicants living in zip codes with higher minority populations, and students in public schools with high levels of students participating in the free and reduced-price lunch program.

Thomas said the school has 400 applications for 46 openings.

Of the school's 303 students, 295 have re-enrolled, Thomas said.

The public meeting will be in the Commons of the school at 302 Burroughs Ave. in Beaufort.