Students at Oak Grove Elementary, a magnet school in Raleigh, started class this week, but 5-year-old Bradley Barfield is not there though. His application was denied. He is now assigned to Swift Creek Elementary -- a school with some of the lowest test scores in the county. His mother, Angie, said he has special needs.
"There was no way as a mother I could put my child, that I know, has to try a little bit harder than the average child anyway into a situation such as going on at Swift Creek right now," she said.
Swift Creek is one of six schools in Wake County trying to boost declining enrollments. Students assigned to these schools are banned from entering magnet schools. Officials said the goal is to protect neighborhood schools.
"Your concern is for your child. What's best for your child," school assignment director Ramey Beavers said. "While I'm concerned about what's best for each child, I have to be concerned about the whole picture."
Barfield plans to send her son to private school instead of Swift Creek.
"It's not about race. It's not about socio-economic class. My biggest focus is test scores and are the teachers able to teach?" she said.
"I hate that they leave the Wake County schools because they don't think they're getting what they need here," Beavers said.
The Wake County school board will re-evaluate the policy next year and it is a policy that may change if they see a mass exodus of students from public school to private school.
The school board hopes more resources and a new principal will increase performance at Swift Creek this year. The number of parents appealing their children's school assignments increased by about 100 this year.