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Waiting to enroll students a bigger headache this year

by Dena L. Owens
Special to The New Tri-State Defender

It's back-to-school time!

For parents, beyond buying school clothing and supplies, that's a whistle signaling them to get the proper documents in hand to register their children.

Registration day is "top priority" for most parents, but there are those who lag around, waiting until after Labor Day to get their children registered and enrolled.

This year, Memphis City Schools cautions parents that district schools will more closely monitor and enforce requirements needed to enroll students. MCS registration day is Tuesday, July 31; classes start Monday, Aug. 6.

"We urge parents to provide the correct documentation on the front end," said William White, executive director, MCS Department of Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Student Information. "There will be strong enforcement of requirements, so parents need to know that if their children do not meet the requirements, they will not be allowed to enroll."

Waiting to enroll a child is disruptive and problematic, to say the least.

Teachers, principals, and most importantly, children are interrupted by waiting.

Delayed enrollment causes teachers to change a path on a planned curriculum.

If some students don't enroll until September, late enrollees could miss as much as a month of school. Thus, teachers must alter their plans to help these students catch up with everyone else.

Even more of a problem, a late-enrolled child experiences a lapse in learning time, which can negatively impact his/her grades (and TCAP scores) if he/she doesn't catch up sufficiently.

Principals must make major adjustments as well. For instance, if a school plans for 25 to 30 children in a classroom, but 10 more show up after Labor Day, that principal must then determine how to balance the number of teachers with the new student load, which may mean splitting up classes and ordering more materials and supplies.

Documents & records

When registering a child, MCS parents must bring required documents such as two approved proofs of residency, proper immunization records for specific student groups, court proof of guardianship as legal custody changes, and other documents. MCS registration requirements and back-to-school announcements are posted at www.mcsk12.net.

To avoid enrollment delays, the district reminds parents to submit approved documents only.

Regarding required immunizations: parents of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students, 7th graders and students who are new to Tennessee must submit proper immunization records for their children to enroll.

Approved shot records must be documented on the Tennessee Certificate of Immunizations – a statewide form that is completed by health care providers and provided to parents.

No other shot record is approved for registration in Tennessee.

"We want parents aware that immunizations and their proper documentation are required by state law," said Patricia Bafford, EdD, coordinator of school health services at MCS. "We must have the correct document in order to enroll students."

As a convenience, MCS offers Regional Health Clinics where student immunizations are given by appointment on Tuesday through Saturday of every week, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parents may call 901-531-6321 to schedule appointments at four school locations: East High, 3206 Poplar; Northside High,1212 Vollintine; Sheffield High, 4315 Sheffield; and Westwood High, 4480 Westmont.

Parents of students who do not meet attendance policies may be in violation of Tennessee Senate Bill 413 passed last year. The bill states that "educational neglect" may be charged to the parent of a truant student, resulting in a fine of up to $50 and/or being sentenced to 30 days or more in jail.

More information

For more information on MCS registration requirements, visit www.mcsk12.net or call the Office of Student Enrollment and Records at 901-416-5830.

Parents may also contact the school their child is assigned to attend for further information.

MCS registration requirements and information

• Save Time! Pre-register online.
 To move quickly through registration on July 31, parents of returning MCS students may pre-register their children by completing most registration forms online at www.mcsk12.net.

• Registration Day. Tuesday, July 31, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

• To register, bring:
 1. Two current proofs of residency (a utility bill, lease, or mortgage statement can be used).
 2. Student's 2011-12 report card (if changing schools).

• Kindergartener parents, bring:
 1. Child's immunization and physical exam records. 
2. Child's Social Security card (requested) 
3. Certified birth certificate copy (child must be 5 years old on or before 09/30/12).

• Immunization requirements
. Pre-K students, kindergarteners, 7th graders, and students new to Tennessee require immunization prior to registration and may not attend school until the requirement is met. To schedule an immunization appointment, call MCS Health Clinics at 901-531-6321; clinics are open Tuesday through Saturday until school opens. To learn more about immunization requirements, visit https://health.state.tn.us/ceds/required.htm.

• Check school assignment
. Parents must register their children at the assigned school. To check a school assignment, visit: http://webquery.mcsk12.net/edulog/webquery/.

• Check bus transportation
. Bus stop locations, schedules and routes and are available at your child's school, or you may visit: http://webquery.mcsk12.net/edulog/webquery/.

• Bargains for school success. 
The annual State of Tennessee "Sales Tax Holiday" is Friday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 5. Shop for uniforms, shoes, school supplies, computers and more, state sales tax-free. For more information, visit: http://tn.gov/revenue/salestaxholiday/.

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