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Rancho Santa Fe School board declines to approve policy allowing non-enrolled students in Rowe programs

The Rancho Santa Fe School District board declined to approve a new policy that would have allowed non-enrolled district students to participate in school programs at the superintendent’s discretion.

The issue was first addressed at the board’s July 29 meeting after former school parents Mark and Beth Nelson asked whether their son could stay active in the robotics program. The board’s attorney, Richard Currier, said there is no guidance from the California Education Code on the issue and very little precedent in other school districts, save for some allowances for home-schooled children.

Currier drafted a policy he presented to the board at its Aug. 20 meeting that would allow the superintendent to grant a non-enrolled student the ability to participate in school programs under very limited circumstances.

“It’s a narrow opening of the door, if you will,” Currier said. “It opens the door, but it doesn’t open it very far. If you’re willing to grant (non-enrolled students to participate), I think this meets your needs.”

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Trustee Todd Buchner said he thought that it would be good to get a policy in place and that he trusted Superintendent Lindy Delaney to use her judgment on a case-by-case basis. He made a motion to approve the policy, but it was not seconded.

Trustee Marti Ritto said her concerns centered on the impact on the budgetary process, and Vice President Tyler Seltzer reiterated his strong opposition. He said if a family chooses to switch schools, they are forgoing the opportunities they would have at Rowe — the school cannot be an “a la carte menu.”

RSF School District Board President Todd Frank said the idea of a public institution is to educate the community, but he worried about how accepting a non-enrolled student could displace other students. Frank said even though he knows the Nelsons as a longstanding and supportive school family, it wasn’t enough justification to put a permanent policy in place.


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