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Education Laws and Regulations

603 CMR 1.00:
Charter Schools

Section:
1.01:
1.02:
1.03:
1.04:
1.05:
1.06:
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1.08:
1.09:
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1.05: Student Recruitment, Enrollment, and Retention

(1) Recruitment and Retention Plan: A charter school must develop a plan that includes deliberate, specific strategies the school will use to attract, to enroll, and to retain a student population that is demographically comparable to similar grades in schools from which the charter school enrolls students. Charter schools shall submit recruitment and retention plans for approval by the Department that meet the requirements of M.G.L. c. 71, § 89; 603 CMR 1.05; and any guidelines issued by the Department.

(2) Non-Discrimination: Charter schools shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, age, ancestry, athletic performance, special need, proficiency in the English language or a foreign language, or prior academic achievement. For purposes of 603 CMR 1.05, gender identity shall mean a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity, or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person's core identity; provided, however, that gender-related identity shall not be asserted for any improper purpose.

(3) Enrollment Process and Applications for Admission:

(a) Enrollment Process. Charter schools may not administer tests to potential applicants or predicate enrollment on results from any test of ability or achievement. Charter schools may not use financial incentives to recruit students. Requirements for enrollment in a charter school, including but not limited to attendance at informational meetings and interviews, shall not be designed, intended, or used to discriminate. Charter schools may not require potential students and their families to attend interviews or informational meetings as a condition of enrollment.
(b) Application for Admission. Every charter school must submit its proposed application for admission, and any subsequent revisions, beyond changing dates indicated and correcting minor grammatical errors, to the Department for approval.
(c) Principal Application Deadlines. Charter schools may not set any principal application deadlines or hold any enrollment lotteries for student admissions for the upcoming school year until after January 1st. Every charter school shall conclude its principal enrollment process no later than March 15th of each year.

(4) Written Notice: Charter schools shall notify all applicants in writing of the rights of students with diverse learning needs to attend the charter school and to receive accommodations and support services, including students who may have disabilities, require special education, or are English language learners. Charter schools must include this notice as part of the school's application and enrollment materials. Every charter school must make information regarding the availability of services for students generally available in the school's outreach materials, through the student handbook, and on the school's website.

(5) Application Deadlines: Charter schools shall give reasonable public notice, of at least one month, of all application deadlines.

(6) Enrollment in Commonwealth Charter Schools: In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, enrollment in Commonwealth charter schools shall be conducted as follows:

(a) In such cases where there are fewer spaces than eligible applicants, students shall be accepted for admission by a lottery process.
(b) A Commonwealth charter school shall provide an enrollment preference to:
  1. Siblings of students already attending the school; and
  2. Students who reside in the city or town in which a Commonwealth charter school is located or, in the case of a regional charter school, to students who reside within the charter school's region.
(c) If there are fewer spaces for admission to the charter school than eligible applicants, the charter school shall hold an enrollment lottery for all such applicants.
(d) The Department shall notify each Commonwealth charter school no later than February 15th of any limitation(s) on the number of students from a district that may be enrolled in charter schools for the upcoming school year.
(e) A charter school may initiate a request once a year for a mailing to the students enrolled in each district specified in the school's charter, and a district may initiate a request once a year for a mailing to the students enrolled in any charter school serving that district. When such a request is made, the district or school, as the case may be, shall provide the names and addresses of students within 30 days, in electronic format, to an approved third party mailing service. Any vendor listed on the statewide procurement or master services agreement for mailing services shall be deemed approved for the purposes of 603 CMR 1.05(6)(e). The district or school must provide parents or guardians with the opportunity to request that such information be withheld. The cost of copying and mailing shall be borne by the charter school or district requesting the mailing. Neither school districts nor charter schools shall charge for the provision of the required names and addresses. Charter schools shall provide any such mailing in the prevalent languages of the district. A language shall be deemed a prevalent language if it is the primary language of 1% or more of the district's total enrollment.

(7) Enrollment in Horace Mann Charter Schools: In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, enrollment in a Horace Mann charter school shall be conducted as follows:

(a) In such cases where there are fewer spaces for admission than eligible applicants, students shall be accepted for admission from among applicants by lottery.
(b) In order of priorities, a Horace Mann charter school shall provide an enrollment preference to:
  1. for the initial lottery, any students attending said school, or attending school in the school building previously occupied by said school, on the date that the final application is filed with the Board;
  2. for the initial lottery, siblings, of any students attending said school, or attending school in the school building previously occupied by said school, on the date that the final application is filed with the Board;
  3. in all subsequent lotteries, siblings of students currently attending the school;
  4. students who are currently enrolled in the public schools of the district in which the Horace Mann charter school is located; and
  5. students who reside in the city or town in which the Horace Mann charter school is located.

(8) Repeat Enrollment Process: If the principal enrollment process fails to fill the available admission spaces, a school may repeat the process more than once, providing such process is fair and open and the school gives reasonable public notice at least one month prior to the application deadline. As spaces become available during the school year, a school may repeat the enrollment process to fill these openings and to meet the requirements of M.G.L. c. 70, § 89(n). No student entering an enrollment process may be admitted ahead of other eligible students who were previously placed on a wait list during a prior enrollment process, except in cases where enrollment preferences change or as described in to 603 CMR 1.05(10)(b). The total number of students attending a charter school in a given school year cannot exceed the total number of students reported to the Department in the previous spring in accordance with 603 CMR 1.08(5).

(9) Public Lotteries: 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. Such lotteries may be conducted electronically; in such cases a neutral party shall certify that the process is fair and that selection is random.

(10) Waitlist: Charter schools shall place the names of students not selected in an enrollment lottery on a wait list in the order the names are drawn.

(a) Schools shall maintain waitlists only for the school year for which the students applied, provided that a charter school may choose to maintain any waitlists that were established prior to March 31, 2014 until such waitlists are exhausted, provided that such maintenance is clearly articulated in the school's enrollment policy approved by the Department. Charter schools must keep accurate records of their wait list containing students' names (first, middle, last), dates of birth, cities or towns of residence, and grades levels of students who entered the lottery but did not gain admission. When an offer of admission is made, reasonable proof of current residency or sibling status may be required at the time an offer of admission is made.
(b) In cases where the enrollment of a student, who is not a sibling of another currently enrolled student, from the waitlist would exceed the district charter tuition cap, the student should be skipped over but kept on the waitlist. In cases where the enrollment of a student who is a sibling of a student already attending a charter school would exceed the district charter school tuition cap, the sibling may be enrolled with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts providing tuition for the sibling, subject to appropriation.
(c) In conformance with M.G.L. c. 71, § 89, charter schools shall, when a student stops attending the school for any reason, fill vacant seats up to February 15th, excluding seats in the last half of the grades offered and grades 10, 11, and 12 . If a school has an odd number of grades, more than half of grades offered shall be included in grades for which the school must fill vacant seats. A vacancy not filled after February 15th moves into the subsequent grade, to be filled the following September if such grade is not in the last half of the grades offered and is not grades 10, 11, or 12. Seats for students who have accepted an offer of admission in the charter school but have never attended are exempt from 603 CMR 1.05(10)(c). .

(11) Integrated Enrollment Process: A school may integrate its enrollment process with that of the school district(s).

(12) Maximum Age and Thresholds: Each charter school shall specify age thresholds for kindergarten and maximum ages for high school programs, consistent with state and federal law.

(13) Multiple Campuses Under Single Charter: A charter school that operates multiple campuses under a single charter may assign students, in accordance with the charter school's enrollment policy, to a specific campus for reasons of geographic proximity, student safety, or program delivery.

Regulatory Authority:
M.G.L. c. 69, § 1B; c. 69, §§ 1J and 1K, as amended by St. 2010, c. 12, § 3; c. 71, § 38G.



Last Updated: September 24, 2015
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