RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A meeting is scheduled to allow community members to weigh in on the debate over Richmond’s specialty school admission, specifically how to ensure all students have an equal chance of getting into those schools.

Specialty and governor’s schools like Code RVA and Open High are highly sought after – but a study on the equity of admissions and enrollment at those schools indicated that the admissions process is underserving minorities and economically disadvantaged students.

Richmond School Board member Jonathan Young said where one lives should not play a factor.

“I’m referring to children,” Young said. “Their crime is that they reside in the wrong zip code or that their family has too large of a bank account.”

At Monday night’s school board meeting, several options were proposed to help find a solution to the unfair specialty school admission process.

“We took the charge to come up with some recommendations on how we address this inequitable reality,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras.

The first option proposed by Kamras would add two extra guaranteed seats from each middle school at all specialty schools. The second option would set aside 50% of seats for economically disadvantaged students. The third is a combination of the first and second options.

A fourth option — which was presented by Young at Monday’s meeting — would add 84 additional seats for students who perform well in middle school. Young’s proposal included option one – but would also increase the number of enrollment at the governor’s schools. 

While some board members think students should be enrolled in the school zone where they live – Young told 8 News that unfairly excludes students who have qualified for these centers.

“Discrimination is discrimination. And frankly, it’s really embarrassing that we’re even having this conversation,” he said. “My point is to say that we lose a lot of families in the city of Richmond, and we lose a lot of families, candidly, because we are not meeting the customer where they’re at and providing them adequate options.”

The issue will be discussed at he Richmond School Board meeting at Huguenot High School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14.