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A Letter Is Not Always Enough: Pursuing Additional Outreach for Comprehensive Coverage
While parent notices may and do succeed in informing parents about their public school choice and SES options, it is inevitable that these notices will not meet with success in every instance, and that there will be parents of eligible students who remain unaware of their options. Moreover, it is reasonable to assume that parent notices, by themselves, will not result in a general awareness of public school choice and SES among the greater parent community. For these reasons and others, it is clear that additional efforts to reach out and inform parents are almost always needed. In fact, federal regulations take this into account, requiring that states, districts, and schools provide parents whose children attend schools in various stages of the improvement process with information on their options through additional broader means such as the Internet, media, and public agencies serving these students and their families.
Following are some parent outreach activities and strategies that districts may consider to complement their notices and to help ensure that parents are educated about their public school choice and SES options. What follows is not intended to cover the topic of outreach exhaustively. Some of the activities and strategies discussed are more costly and/or labor-intensive than others, and districts should give some consideration to their means and staffing needs when developing any additional outreach plans. That said, districts should recognize that there is no universally effective strategy or "magic bullet" when it comes to reaching out to parents, and should consider undertaking as many outreach efforts as possible. Districts that engage in multi-faceted, comprehensive parent outreach campaigns are generally more successful in informing parents and the community about public school choice and SES.
For more information on additional outreach, see: Public School Choice Non-Regulatory Guidance, D-2,3; Creating Strong District School Choice Programs, pp. 7-16; BuildingChoice.org; Supplemental Educational Services Non-Regulatory Guidance, E-2; and Creating Strong Supplemental Educational Services Programs, pp. 23-30. The links to these resources are provided in Additional Resources at the end of this handbook.