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APS, charters competing for students

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Albuquerque students in grades eight through 10 are hot commodities this summer.

Albuquerque Public Schools is opening three new magnet schools for high school students, which means families have more choices than ever before. It also means schools are competing for high school-age students.

And at least one charter school principal isn’t pleased that APS asked for her students’ names and contact information, as part of its recruiting efforts.

Kathy Sandoval-Snider, principal of Albuquerque Institute for Mathematics and Science, said sharing that information is an invasion of families’ privacy. She refused to give her students’ information to APS.

“Charter schools are supposed to be about reform and doing things differently,” Sandoval-Snider said. “Set up a little competition and then have some replication. It’s not about … poaching on charter’s lists.”

APS Superintendent Winston Brooks objected to the term “poaching.”

“When charters take students away from us, it’s called competition,” he said. “We attempt to take students back, it’s called ‘poaching,’ and I think that is a double standard.”

Sandoval-Snider acknowledged part of the mission of charters is to create competition in public education. She said she would not mind if families at her school heard about the APS schools and decided to go there. She said she does mind the targeted recruiting.

But requests for student lists go both ways. Each year, numerous charter schools ask APS for lists of its students from certain grade levels and demographics. For example, APS records custodian Rigo Chavez said a number of charter high schools ask for information about APS eighth-graders.

Sandoval-Snider said both practices are wrong. AIMS does not request student information from APS.

“I don’t think it’s different. I never could understand why APS would, in essence, give over contact information about students,” she said.

Chavez said APS is required to share its student information under state charter school law. He said APS sent requests this spring to 39 charter schools that serve secondary students, and about 20 complied. The information was used to send a mailer to students, letting them know about the new APS schools that are opening.

The schools are: an International Baccalaureate program at Sandia High, a virtual high school with core classes taken online, and a high school that will partner with Central New Mexico Community College.

Amy Biehl High School principal Mike May said he sees the new APS schools as a positive sign that small, nontraditional schools are becoming more widely accepted and are here to stay. He said he has already referred two students who were planning to leave Amy Biehl to the new school at CNM.

Scott Glasrud, who runs three charters and is a key founder of another, said he was not troubled by APS’ request. He said he is pleased to see more options for students.

He said APS has always given him student information when he has asked for it. At one point, Glasrud said, the four schools in which he is involved had a combined waiting list of 4,000 students. He said there’s obviously demand for different kinds of school environments and room for competition.

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