California students who are in 1,000 of the state's lowest performing schools will now be able to transfer out this academic year instead of next, under the emergency declaration unanimously approved by the Board of Education.
Board members feel the move-up date is necessary because many kids are at risk of "serious harm" if they remain in those schools.
"One child trapped in one of those schools for one more year is, in fact, an emergency," Benjamin Austin from the California Board of Education said.
While the "serious harm" in the order actually means harm to children's futures, some parents were upset because the use of an emergency order is alarmist and could be interpreted as physical harm.
"It's very scary and that emotion will just set all kinds of triggers within them as to how to make a decision and where they can send their children," Suzan Solomon from the California Parent/Teacher Association said.
Districts must notify parents whose children attend one of the 1,000 lowest performing schools of their options by September 15.
Some superintendents don't know what to do, considering they've already budgeted for the school year.
"We have staffed the number of children that we know are going to be in each school," Tustin Unified Superintendent Richard Bray said.
But advocates of open enrollment say these kids can't wait another year. Failing schools have been given numerous opportunities over the years to improve and have had only marginal success.
"This choice gives parents that opportunity to un-trap their children, get their children out of the bondage of that failing school," pastor K.W. Tulloss said.
Many parents may want to transfer their kids to a better school, but won't be able to do it. Transportation will be a problem because districts are not likely to provide it.