Previously under California law, parents were allowed to unilaterally hold their children back one full year before starting school, according to Superintendent Craig Goldman. In practice, parents who chose to do so usually started their children in kindergarten at or shortly before the age of 6. Such a child would theoretically remain one year older than his or her classmates all the way through high school.
Now, Goldman said, the district is entitled to weigh in on whether it is appropriate for parents to hold a student back — and that is exactly what the district plans to do.
The parent, who asked to remain anonymous because he doesn't want his other child (currently enrolled in the district) to be treated any differently, said he would have liked to see the district take a hands-off approach. Just because MVWSD officials are allowed to enter into the decision making process, doesn't mean they should, he said.
Goldman said that the district is going to take each request to hold a child back on a case-by-case basis.
Even after hearing Goldman's assurance that children who are not ready to start school will be permitted to stay back an extra year, the father said he was still not satisfied.
Parents know their children better than any school official could ever know them, he said. So why should the school be able to override a parent's decision?
One reason, for the district to have a say, according to Goldman, is that it would be unfair for parents to start holding their children back simply so that they had a competitive advantage -— in other words "parents making a strategic choice to give their children an advantage over other children."
And a representative with the California Department of Education wondered whether children who were held back might feel out of place, especially if their physical development is out of step with that of their peers.