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Parents, committee members review application process for Charleston County Magnet School

Too many applicants and not enough seats. According to Paul Padron, the Charleston County School District Assistant Associate Superintendent, that's the issue among CCSD magnet schools like Academic Magnet.

On Tuesday, members of the strategic education committee met with concerned parents and community members, brainstorming solutions to fix the problem.

Among his suggestions, Padron mentioned community outreach efforts, contacting middle schools, also helping parents complete magnet school applications.

For parent Charlisa Pugh, also the diversity chair at Academic Magnet High School, she says the answer could be in a lottery system.

Currently, Academic Magnet uses a blind admissions process, where decision makers have no knowledge of a student's race, gender, or socioeconomic status.

"My concern is for students who are not at the very top, but they have qualified to come to this high school," she said.

Pugh's daughter is an Academic Magnet graduate, and has a son attending now.

"Year over year, the numbers for students of color, specifically African-American but also low socioeconomic students, has decreased," she said.

According to the Academic Magnet website, applicants for the 2015-16 school year were set to receive acceptance letters by Jan. 9.

Parent Amy Rankin has an 8th grade daughter who applied to the school, and says her family is still waiting.

"She's been checking the mailbox everyday," Rankin said."She was really nervous about opening it, and when she finally got the guts to open it, she opened it and read, 'There's been no decision, please hold further,'she was devastated."

Padron maintains the district is not scheduled to make any changes to the admissions process this year, but is considering adding up to 15 more spots for future applicants of Academic Magnet High School.

He also says Academic Magnet officials are working to get this year's acceptance letters in the mail Wednesday.

"We're always looking at diversity," he said. "Not just in diversity in skin color, but in diversity of background, and diversity of thinking."

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