Superintendent: Rumors unfounded that Watson Chapel is removing students

Initial fears that a large number of students attending the Watson Chapel School District were ineligible to do so proved to be unfounded after an analysis of student enrollment documents, Superintendent Danny Hazelwood said.

“We had one student that Watson Chapel High School Assistant Principal and Athletic Director John Hayden believed was not authorized to be in the district because he had a Pine Bluff address and nothing in the records showed that he was in the district as part of school choice,” Hazelwood said. “Then Mr. Hayden began looking at the records of the sophomores and found a bunch of kids going to school here with Pine Bluff addresses. The APSCN [Arkansas Public School Computer Network] records that we use did not have a place for school choice, and 99.5 percent of the kids did have school choice documentation but it was entered into APSCN incorrectly.

“I believe when all of this started there wasn’t an option for school choice on APSCN,” Hazelwood said.

Hazelwood said that there was no truth to rumors heard by some parents that a large number of students were going to be removed from the Watson Chapel District.

“Parents are already on edge due to the court ruling earlier this summer that school choice may be unconstitutional,” Hazelwood said. “So when some parents got a hold of information that said we were putting students out of school they thought we were starting early.

“I had some parents from other school districts saying, ‘Are you putting my kid out?’” Hazelwood said. “It was really a mess for a little while.

“Mr. Hayden just didn’t realize that all of those students listed as out of district were actually school choice kids,” Hazelwood said. “It was just a miscommunication.”

Hazelwood said that there may have been some initial memos related to the issues that found their way into the hands of parents but the district worked on getting those back.

“The bottom line here is that there is no vacating of students from this school district,” Hazelwood said. “Heaven forbid. We want every kid that we can get.

“Our data input is fixing this now,” Hazelwood said. “It was all an innocent situation. It was a false alarm that was loudly heard.”