By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
For the third straight year, Escambia County High School has been placed on the state’s “failing schools” list.
ECHS was one of 74 schools in 28 school districts to earn such a designation under The Alabama Accountability Act. The legislation, enacted in 2013, requires labeling the bottom 6 percent of the state’s public schools — measured by the proficiency of 10th-graders on a standardized test taken the previous spring — as “failing.”
ECHS Principal Dennis Fuqua could not be reached for comment on his school’s inclusion on the list, but a year ago he pointed out that the test on which the list is based has been declared invalid by the Alabama Department of Education, which still uses it to measure the quality of education provided by public schools, and by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students in “failing” schools can choose one of four options for the 2020-21 school year. They can stay in their current school, transfer to a non-failing school within the same school district, transfer to a neighboring public-school district that will accept them, or they can enroll in a private or home school.
State law allows parents an income tax credit for the cost to move the student, as well as for the tuition at the new school, which can be up to 80 percent of what the state pays to educate a public-school student.
If a student leaves a “failing” school for a private school, and the parent of the student is eligible for and claims a tax credit, 20 percent of the state funding for that student is then allocated to the “failing” public school the following year.
For students of low-income families who choose to move their child or children to a private school, state law allows nonprofit organizations to provide scholarships to help pay the cost of the private school.