Students and Graduates Create The AUCTS to Fight for the Reinstatement of Interdistrict Transfers

Jonathan Pham, News Editor

Founded July 14, 2020, the Acalanes Union Coalition for Transfer Students (AUCTS) fights for the reinstatement of interdistrict transfer students.  The organization was started by alumni Zahra Hasanain and Athena Davis, and seniors Josh Morganstein, Sachin Lakhotia, and Ava Moran.

“It’s clear that banning transfers upholds inequality.  Reversing the ban is a simple way for the district to both improve our schools and take a real step in the direction of racial, social, and economic justice,” Davis said.

In 2018, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) banned interdistrict transfer students citing the reason as budgetary concerns.  Effective during the 2019-2020 school year, the ban on interdistrict transfers was met with disapproval from students, parents, and alumni as 80% of a group of 372 students polled by Morganstein and Lakhotia rejected the ban while 8% agreed with it.  Additionally, 55% of polled students believe that the district governing board does not have the best interests of the community in mind.

“We have not discussed this matter since it was elected in November of 2018,” district clerk Christopher Severson said.

During an August 5 board meeting, sixteen community members spoke out in support of ending the ban on transfers which compelled the AUHSD governing board to commit to talking about the status of the transfer policy in the future.  

“The board decided on putting the discussion on the agenda for September 16.  They’re having a meeting on September 2 as well,” Morganstein said.

The organization offers two roles, outreach and specialists, for students to help out with.  The outreach jobs focus on spreading awareness and garnering support from all angles of the community.  The specialist jobs, including research and statistics, digital media, creative arts, and protest and direct action, focus on concrete tasks to help the other sections do their work.  The AUCTS currently has 47 AUHSD student members.

“I strongly disagree with the transfer ban.  I have four really close friends who are all minorities, all transfers, and are a great contribution to the Miramonte community.  If AUHSD wants to preach and celebrate diversity, they have to have it at their schools in the first place,” junior Camille Rubin said.

During the 2017-2018 school year, of all the interdistrict transfer students, 52.9% were students of color and 13.9% were socio-economically disadvantaged.  Since the ban of interdistrict transfer students, there was a 7.1% decrease in the amount of students of color and an 11.1% decrease in socioeconomically disadvantaged students going to AUHSD schools.  

In the past, the transfer program allowed socioeconomically disadvantaged students to receive a better education at Miramonte than what they would receive in their area.

“I transferred to Miramonte to get a better education.  The ban is honestly heartbreaking because I have friends who also transferred but won’t get to go to school with their siblings.  It essentially split their families and forced their parents to make two commutes.  I understand that we should have diversity in our schools, but I don’t want to be treated differently just because I’m a transfer student.  We’re still people, not just objects of diversity.  Don’t accept transfer students to just have diversity, accept them to give another student an opportunity with academics or even sports,” junior Mikaela Santos said.

“Our next concern is making AUHSD schools a safer environment for transfer students, as well as for our in-district black students and students of color.  I have seen too many transfer students leave Miramonte because of the racism and classism that they experience at school on a daily basis.  We will be partnering with other equity groups to further anti-racism in AUHSD schools,” Davis said.