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School Board Examines Magnet Programs

Attendance, Other Policies To Be Subject Of Duval County Public Meetings

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Born to help desegregation by giving suburban parents a reason to want their children to attend inner-city schools, magnet schools have become some of the most popular in Jacksonville -- with waiting lists of students wanting to transfer in.

Twenty years after they were created, some in the system believe the magnet schools are taking the best and brightest away from neighborhood schools.

Underlying resentment against the schools has the Duval County School Board reexamining the magnet program, and who can attend them.

Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School is one of several dedicated magnet schools that allows students from across the county to apply, but this middle school does gives attendance priority to children in the immediate neighborhood.

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Some parents argue that the policy prevents students from other neighborhoods from getting into the school of their choice.

"My daughter got a quality education here, and we wanted quality education for our son, as well," Shelia Jones said about Landon.

While the Jones family doesn't live anywhere near the school and busing to the school for gifted students was eliminated due to budget cuts, she said it's worth the drive for her son to attend the school.

While Jones was picking up her son Thursday, the School Board was taking a closer look at magnet school attendance policies.

"We?re not looking at doing away with the magnet program. We?re going to review the policy as it pertains to priority one, get community input, and to see if there?s any modification that needs to be made for those who expect to be able to go to a Landon, a James Weldon Johnson or any of the magnets," said board member Tommy Hazouri.

The dates and locations of the meetings have not been announced.