Frequently Asked Questions
A.1. What is the Metco program?
The Metco program is a state-funded grant program that promotes diversity and educational opportunity for more than 3,300 Boston and Springfield school students, as well as thousands of students in the Metco receiving school districts. The Metco program was started in the 1960s to provide enhanced educational opportunities for participating students, to reduce the racial isolation of suburban school districts, and to reduce segregation in city schools.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) oversees the Metco grant program. The Department's main role is to ensure that the Metco grant is administered correctly and that school districts receive Metco funding. The Department also provides general oversight in terms of policy issues. Some of these policy issues involve intake and placement, termination, special education, academic and disciplinary expectations, etc. The Department serves as the primary conduit of information regarding the program to the Board of Education, the Legislature, the media, and the public. The Department, through the Commissioner of Education, has ultimate responsibility and authority related to the grant program and the service provider contract. The Department works with the Metco Advisory Committee on policy; the committee consists of representatives from the Metco community, including directors, superintendents, METCO Inc. and its own Board of Directors, and a parent representative.
A.2. What is the legislative enabling language for Metco?
Chapter 76, Section 12A of Massachusetts General Laws states that "the school committee of any city or town or any regional school district may adopt a plan for attendance at its schools by any child who resides in another city, town, or regional school district in which racial imbalance exists." This plan "shall tend to eliminate racial imbalance in the sending district" and, as the law states, "to help alleviate racial isolation in the receiving district." The definitions of 'racial imbalance' and `racial isolation' are found in Chapter 71, Section 37D (also referred to as Chapter 636, section 37D). In summary, 'racial imbalance' is the condition of a public school in which more than fifty percent of the pupils attending such school are non-white. 'Racial isolation' is the condition of a public school in which not more than thirty percent of the pupils attending such school are non-white.