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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Charter Schools - Vote to Waive Regulation Requiring a Week's Notice for Enrollment Lotteries

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
June 16, 2017

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The regulations for charter schools specify that all "lotteries for charter school seats shall be conducted in a public place with a neutral party drawing names and with reasonable public notice given at least one week prior to the lottery." 603 CMR 1.05(9). Further, the Charter School Regulations state that "[e]very charter school shall conclude its principal enrollment process no later than March 15th of each year." 603 CMR 1.05 (3)(c).

Given the regulatory requirements pertaining to charter school enrollment processes, many charter schools conduct lotteries during the first two weeks of March. Due to a major winter storm on March 14, 2017, three charter schools notified the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) that they changed their lottery date without providing a week's notice to the public. The Department has received requests from these three charter schools to waive the requirement in 603 CMR 1.05(9) that "public notice [be] given at least one week prior to the lottery." All three charter schools were able to conclude their principal enrollment processes by March 15th and are not seeking a waiver to 603 CMR 1.05 (3)(c).

Letters from Hampden Charter School of Science, Libertas Academy Charter School, and Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School Chelsea are enclosed. In their letters, each school outlines the reasons for its request and describes how the school provided notice of the lottery date change to the public.

In granting a waiver to the regulations, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) allows the results of the rescheduled lotteries to stand. Without a granting of waivers, the lotteries of these charter schools may be in question. Repeating the principal enrollment process is not a viable option because families have received notice of admissions, districts have received enrollment reports for the 2017-2018 school year and made budgetary decisions on that basis, and the statutory deadlines regarding charter school enrollment have now passed. See, e.g., G.L. c. 71, § 89(o) (notification of each school district in writing no later than April 1 annually of the "number and grade level of students who will be attending [and transferring to] the charter school from that district the following September").

I recommend that the Board vote to grant the waivers to the three schools given the unanticipated storm that required the schools to take immediate action. A motion is attached.

If you have any questions regarding this matter or require additional information, please contact Alison Bagg, Director (781-338-3218); Cliff Chuang, Senior Associate Commissioner (781-338-3222); or me.

Enclosures:

Download PDF Document
Hampden Charter School of Science Request for Waiver
Download PDF Document
Libertas Academy Charter School Request for Waiver
Download PDF Document
Phoenix Academy Public Charter High School Chelsea Request for Waiver
 
Motion


Last Updated: June 21, 2017
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