The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

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

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
June 15, 2018

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 series of major winter storms in March 2018, two charter schools notified the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) that they changed their lottery date and were unable to provide a week's notice and still meet the March 15th deadline. The Department has received requests from these two 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."1 Both charter schools were able to conclude their principal enrollment processes by March 15th and are not seeking a waiver of 603 CMR 1.05(3)(c).

Letters from Christa McAuliffe Charter Public School and Prospect Hill Academy Charter School are enclosed. In their letters, each school outlines the reasons for its request and describes how it provided notice to the public of the change in the lottery date.

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 and the admission of individual students 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 2018-2019 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 two schools based upon the unanticipated storms 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.



Christa McAuliffe Charter Public School Request for Waiver
Prospect Hill Academy Charter School Request for Waiver