Concerns about Montessori lottery | Letter

I was denied permission to be a guest speaker for three minutes at an Orcas Island School District Montessori Steering Committee meeting on April 17, to express concerns about the applicant lottery procedure that was approved by the school board on April 11. \

One concern is the recent lack of transparency with families. Aside from two MSC members, no parents of students now in the class were directly informed of the options being discussed for the lottery. Several Spanish-speaking families were ignored. A year ago, everyone agreed the lack of transparency surrounding the application process has been a lightning rod topic since 2002.

Second, if parents had been informed beforehand, most would agree the approved lottery procedure is discriminatory. It dictates that two of eight seats (25 percent) will be reserved for one group (special education) and given exclusive priority over all other groups (English Language Learners, low-income, African Americans, etc.). And some people think there is no discrimination on Orcas.

The only way to have a non-discriminatory lottery is to have a 100 percent lottery, with no special categories receiving preference. All IEP children are encouraged to apply, as are children from all other groups. Equal opportunity for all.

Please research how other public school districts do their lotteries. All the ones I found do 100 percent lotteries, except for those with sibling and geographic zone tie breakers due to transportation limitations. It is difficult to find a district that reserves 25 percent of seats for one group over all other groups.

Besides this misstep, I would like to express my gratitude to the MSC for all their hard work and countless hours of meetings and sleepless nights. I am grateful to Eric Webb for organizing the MSC after the program was saved by the school board and parents last year.

For the school board meeting on May 7, please make an amendment to a conduct a 100 percent lottery to take place on May 22. Please reach out to all families to be included in determining an application process to ensure equal opportunity for all applicants.

Lili Hein

Orcas Island