Norwalk's middle school student-choice plan irks some parents

Some Norwalk parents say they are angry about the middle school choice plan that would allow students to select a middle school based on a variety of specialized programs.
Norwalk's middle school choice plan offers specialties, including Mandarin, the arts and science. Future sixth graders can try for any program, which will be selected by lottery.
Parents protested the policy at City Hall Tuesday evening.
The district says that students can still select a program at the school in their neighborhood. But parents say they fear transportation will be an issue and feel the change would be too disruptive.
Parents also say it is a "forced redistricting of our school system" and say they were not "effectively communicated" about the policy until after it was voted on.
"They have formed bonds. To take a middle schooler out of Nathan Hale and shoot him over to Rowayton - that flips up his entire life," said Drew Todd.
James Johnson is in fifth grade. He says he is worried his plan to go to Nathan Hale will be upended.
"I don't want to go to a different school, I want to go to Nathan Hale because that's where my friends are going to be," Johnson said.
The district insists students and parents can choose programs close to home, and that transportation will be provided. But parents have doubts.
"If they all end up at different schools, how am I going to get them all to school?" asked Avril Johnson.
Parents have started an online petition calling for the removal of the Board of Education chairperson.
A webinar about the program that was scheduled for Tuesday was called off, and in-person meeting has been scheduled for Monday evening.