INTERDISTRICT PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE POLICY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Topics (click on the topic below to go directly to related Q&A):
District application process
NJ SMART and ASSA coding of Choice students
Enrollment of students who move out of a choice district
Student application process
District application process
Q: Can a district have a special program that is open to choice students? Can admission criteria be used to evaluate applicants to the special program?
A: Yes, a district may have a special program that is open to choice students. If a choice district limits admissions to a special choice program with a particular area of concentration, it may evaluate applicants on their interest in the program and it must apply the same admission criteria for all students admitted to the program, whether they are choice or resident students. When developing admissions criteria for a special program, school districts must ensure that the identification methodology used is developmentally appropriate, non-discriminatory and directly related to the programs and services offered. The NJDOE reviews and approves all Choice program admissions criteria that are submitted in the district's original application to the Choice program. If a district wants to change any admissions criteria, it must contact the Choice Program (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: If an approved choice district adds new grades, a new program, or changes their admissions/eligibility criteria, must it submit another application to participate in the choice program?
A: Changes other than number of seats in the approved grades require that the district submit a new application. The application will be posted on the website in the spring and is due by April 30 in the year prior to the school year in which the revised choice program will be implemented. The commissioner will notify choice districts of the approval or disapproval of their application by July 30.
Q: Can a choice district also maintain a tuition program?
A: State statute and regulation governing the existence of both a tuition and choice program in the district are referenced below. If a district has a question about how the choice statute and implementing regulation apply to its specific situation, it is advised to consult the district's attorney to determine whether it can maintain both programs in the district.
The statute reference http://www.state.nj.us/education/choice/law.htm states the following:
"A choice district shall not be eligible to enroll students on a tuition basis pursuant to N.J.S.18A:38-3 while participating in the interdistrict public school choice program. Any student enrolled on a tuition basis prior to the establishment of the choice program shall be entitled to remain enrolled in the choice district as a choice student."
The code reference http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap12.pdf states the following:
"District boards of education may not maintain at the same time both a tuition program pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:38-3 and a choice program in the grade levels that the school district has made available to choice students."
Therefore, grades that choice students will attend in future years as they advance in the school/district should be considered "grade levels that the school district has made available to choice students" and should not be included in a tuition program.
Note: Parent-paid tuition programs for non-resident students are not to be confused with district-paid tuition programs (such as special needs programs). District-paid tuition programs can be maintained at the same time as a choice program.
Q: Does a tuition student automatically convert to a choice student? What is the process?
A: Conversion from tuition to choice can happen only in the choice district's first year as a choice district. The tuition student does not need to file an application with the choice district. However, the choice district must include the student in their enrollment data submission to the NJDOE in January, and must send a transportation request to the resident district in March. The tuition student should be registered with his/her resident district.
Q: Can out of state students attend a choice district?
A: Regulation 6A:12-2.2(c) states that students residing out of state may not participate in the choice program. And choice districts are not allowed to accept parent-paid tuition students.
Q: Can an out of state teacher's child attend a choice district, either as a tuition or a choice student?
A: 6A:12-2.2(c) states that students residing out of state may not participate in the choice program. However, the district has the discretion to admit a nonresident or out-of-state student as a non-choice, non-tuition, nonresident student. Since choice districts cannot enroll students on a tuition basis, the district may develop a policy that allows nonresident children of teachers the right to attend school without tuition, but this would be outside the choice statute.
Q: Can a district that has submitted an application as a choice district withdraw their application?
A: The district may withdraw its application up until July 30. By statute, the Commissioner has until July 30 to notify a choice district of the approval or disapproval of its application. After July 30, the NJDOE will publicize the districts' participation in the program.
Q: What must a district provide through the parent information center?
A: All choice districts must establish and maintain a parent information center that disseminates information about the choice program and helps parents in submitting student applications for enrollment. The district must also post information on its choice program on the district's website, including their application, the timeline and application policies.
Q: How are choice students funded?
A: The State pays the choice district the local portion of its adequacy budget (called the "local fair share") in the form of "choice aid," on a per pupil basis, for each choice student. (The resident districts keep the local tax levy collected for students who "choice out," so this funding stays in the resident district.) In year 2 and beyond, any State aid attributable to choice students (also call equalization aid) will also be paid to the choice district. Transportation is provided by the resident/sending district. To find more information about choice funding, visit the resources area of the website.
Q: If a choice district loses a choice student after the enrollment data has been sent to the NJDOE in Jan., can the choice district fill that seat with another choice student and receive choice funding for that student?
A: If a funded choice seat becomes available after the enrollment data has been submitted to the NJDOE because a student has withdrawn his/her Intent to Enroll or does not end up enrolling at the start of the next school year, the district may substitute another student into the vacant seat. The district may substitute an unfunded choice student (e.g., a resident student who moved and wishes to remain in the district—according to their application preference policy on this—or a student who received a waiver), or pull students off its waitlist or accept late applicants, provided that the total number of choice seats does not exceed the approved enrollment maximum. The district will not be funded for more than the enrollment number provided to the NJDOE as of the January choice data submission.
The choice district must notify the resident/sending district as soon as the new choice student accepts enrollment (using the Intent to Enroll form, if desired) and send the transportation request. If there are any changes to the transportation needs of accepted students, the choice district must send any new/revised transportation requests to the resident district immediately so the district can seek bids and make any needed changes. If a resident district receives a transportation request after the start of the school year, the district is not expected to seek bids and may offer aid in lieu of transportation to the student. Please read the choice transportation procedures.
Q: Can a choice district add unfunded NON-choice students and then convert them to choice students in the next application cycle?
A: Unfortunately, no. Every choice district has been given a DOE-approved maximum number of choice seats for which it will be funded in FY2015-16. If a district wants to enroll more non-resident students and exceed their choice enrollment maximum, then they may enroll students outside the choice program. Choice rules DO NOT apply to these students: they would not receive any state funding and would not be treated like choice students. Districts that take students through this option should be clear with families about what entitlements/rights these students have or don't have. Districts may enroll such students as non-choice, non-resident, non-tuition students, but they will NOT be converted to choice students in subsequent years. To become choice students, they would need to apply to the choice district in another year and if they have a choice sibling in the district, they would get enrollment preference (as long as the district policy gives preference to siblings).
In the ASSA, these students should be counted as "Onroll" and "Received->Misc.-> Other-Tuition Free". These students should not be counted as "Onroll-Choice" students. In NJSMART these students should be coded as "resident" in their home district and "received/attending" in the choice district utilizing TUITIONCODE = 05 "Tuition Free."
Q: In the district's FY2016 state aid notice, some choice districts experienced a choice aid adjustment from the prebudget year. Explain the reason for the adjustment.
A: This adjustment is the result of the district over-projecting the number of choice students in FY2015 and receiving State funding for them. The October 15, 2014 ASSA enrollment count revealed that fewer actual choice students were enrolled than were projected, so the district's choice aid was adjusted in the subsequent budget year (FY2016).
NJ SMART and ASSA coding of Choice students
The following provides instructions on proper coding of choice students in NJ SMART and ASSA. Proper coding is essential for district funding and data analysis.
All choice students must be coded as choice students, regardless of whether they receive choice funding or are unfunded in the current year. Choice students are unfunded only because they were not included in the final January data submission in the year prior to their enrollment, however they are still legitimate choice students who are subject to the requirements of the NJDOE choice program.
Use Tuition code=06 This signifies that the student is a non-resident choice student attending whose tuition is paid by the state.
DistrictCodeResident is the resident district of the student. The DistrictCodeResident is the district that is financially responsible for the transportation of the choice student, assuming the students meets the transportation eligibility requirements. For District Codes, please refer to: https://www.njsmart.org
SchoolCodeResident is the resident school that a student would attend based on their permanent or other home address This school code is unique for each school within each district. For School Codes, please refer to the County, District, School Codes document: https://www.njsmart.org
Please refer to the SID Management Student Data Handbook for more information:
Questions about NJ SMART can be directed to the NJ SMART Help Desk by calling (800) 254-0295 or e-mailing NJSMART@pcgus.com.
The ASSA includes pre-loaded data from your school district's October 15, 2015 NJSMART SID Management submission; however, this information should be edited when necessary. If your NJ SMART choice enrollment data exceeds your choice enrollment maximum, then you will need to edit it. The ASSA system will not allow you to certify your enrollment data if you report more choice students than the maximum.
The ASSA manual, questions and answers, workpapers, and PowerPoint presentation can be found at http://www.nj.gov/education/finance/sf/stateaid_app.shtml
Q: How is a choice student who attends a Vocational School District on a shared time basis to be recorded on the ASSA and NJ SMART and which district is responsible for the tuition to the Vocational District?
A: A choice student who attends a choice district for high school may attend the county's Vocational School District on a part-time basis and is reported in NJ SMART by the Choice District. The student is to be recorded in ASSA as on-roll shared time (.5 in the ASSA) by both the choice district and the Vocational School District. The student will be recorded in ASSA as SENT shared-time to the vocational school by the resident district.
The resident district is responsible for any tuition charged by the vocational district.
Student application process
Q: What is the purpose of the Notice of Intent to Participate formand who should fill it out?
A: By law, a resident district must be informed if a student intends to participate in the choice program. Students who are enrolled in their resident district must complete the Notice of Intent to Participate form and submit it to their resident district by December 1. The district should provide a signed receipt that acknowledges receipt of the form.
Students who are not enrolled in their resident district need not submit the Notice of Intent to Participate form.
Q: What is the purpose of the Confirmation of Student Enrollment form and who should fill it out?
A: The primary purpose of the Confirmation of Student Enrollment form is to help the choice district designate their applicants as either tier 1 or 2. The form should be sent by the choice district to the applicants' current resident district so it can indicate whether the students are or are not currently enrolled in their district of residence. The resident district must verify enrollments for all the students on the list by 12/11/15.
Q: Can a choice district encourage student athletes to apply to their program?
A: No, a choice district cannot recruit or encourage student enrollment based on athletic ability. Similarly, students cannot participate in a choice program for athletic reasons. The NJSIAA 30-day transfer rule for varsity athletes applies to choice students as well as to other students attending NJSIAA-member districts. Visit http://njsiaa.org/ to find their Constitution, Rules and Regulations.
Q: What are the policies for student varsity athletes who transfer from their resident school to a choice school?
A: The transfer policy of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) (http://www.njsiaa.org/ and click on "Constitution") is to discourage the enrollment of students in the choice program for athletic advantage. The NJSIAA has a student transfer policy that applies to students who transfer from one school to another for reasons other than a change of address. The chart below the NJSIAA transfer policy explains how it is applied to choice students.
NJSIAA Transfer Policy:
|Question||NJSIAA Application of Transfer Rule|
Considered an initial enrollment; not a transfer
This is a transfer and student is subject to 30 day sit rule, except if a Choice student transfers back to his or her resident district
Q: Can a choice program use criteria for enrollment that is based on student performance, including test scores or grade point?
A: A choice program cannot discriminate in admission policies on the basis of intellectual aptitude. The law states the following: A choice district may evaluate a prospective student on the student's interest in the program offered by a designated school. The district shall not discriminate in its admission policies or practices on the basis of athletic ability, intellectual aptitude, English language proficiency, status as a handicapped person, or any basis prohibited by State or federal law. (See 18A:36B-20 Interdistrict School Choice Law: http://www.state.nj.us/education/choice/law.htm.)
However, if a choice district limits admissions to a special choice program with a particular area of concentration, it may evaluate prospective students on their interest in the program and it must apply the same admission criteria for all students admitted to the program, whether they are choice or resident students. When developing admissions criteria for a special program, school districts must ensure that the identification methodology used is developmentally appropriate, non-discriminatory and directly related to the programs and services offered. The NJDOE reviews and approves all choice program admissions criteria, which must be submitted in their application to participate in the choice program. If a district wants to change any admissions criteria, it should contact the Choice program office.
Q: Can a choice district use discipline records as enrollment criteria?
A: No, a choice district cannot use discipline records as enrollment criteria.
Q: Under what circumstances can a choice district reject an applicant with an IEP?
A: A choice district can reject an applicant who has been classified as eligible for special education services if that student's individualized education program could not be implemented in the district, or if the enrollment of that student would require the district to fundamentally alter the nature of its educational program, or would create an undue financial or administrative burden on the district.
A student whose application is rejected by a choice district must be provided with a reason for the rejection in the District Notice of Rejection. An appeal of a rejection notice by a parent may be made to the commissioner, through the Bureau of Controversies and Disputes. To learn more about this appeals process, see the Bureau's FAQs.
If the student is deemed eligible for special education services after acceptance but prior to the start of the first school year in the choice district and the district cannot implement the IEP, acceptance into the choice program can be revoked.
Once the applicant has enrolled in the choice district, the district is required to keep the student and ensure that the student's needs for special education services are met—just the same as it would for a resident student: once the student has enrolled, and an IEP is developed that cannot be implemented by the choice district, the district must follow the normal IEP process for out-of-district placement (see N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1, et seq.: 6A:14-2.7 for due process hearings, 6A:14-3.7 for IEP process and 6A:14-4.3 for program options).
Once a choice student has enrolled in the choice district, the district is required to keep the student and ensure that the student's needs for special education services are met—just the same as it would for a resident student. Any costs to implement the IEP are to be borne by the choice district, with one exception: if an IEP is developed that cannot be implemented by the choice district and an out-of-district placement is designated, the choice district is only financially responsible for any state aid received for the student and the sending district is responsible for the balance. [See 6A:12-9.1 General provisions (b): The sending district shall maintain fiscal responsibility for any choice student enrolled in or determined to require a private day or residential school, except that the choice district will be required to contribute any State aid received for such a student and the sending district will be responsible for the balance.] For more on out-of-district placements, see Choice students needing out-of-district placement.
Q: What is the process that the choice district must go through to place a choice student out-of-district?
A: For private placements, the district would need to follow the normal IEP process and procedures for due process purposes (see N.J.A.C. 6A:14-1, et seq.: 6A:14-2.7 for due process hearings, 6A:14-3.7 for IEP process and 6A:14-4.3 for program options)
The choice district is responsible for providing the student with special education services once they are enrolled, including evaluations, classification, placement etc. This responsibility includes tuition billing and getting reimbursement for the balance of the tuition costs from the resident district in the case of an out of district or private placement. The choice district is only financially responsible for any state aid received for the student and the sending district is responsible for the balance. See 6A:12-9.1 General provisions (b): The sending district shall maintain fiscal responsibility for any choice student enrolled in or determined to require a private day or residential school, except that the choice district will be required to contribute any State aid received for such a student and the sending district will be responsible for the balance.)
Q: If a choice student completes the terminal grade in a choice district with a limited grade span, can the choice student automatically enroll in the receiving district school or a constituent district with a regional high school (including a limited purpose regional district) to which the choice district's resident students are sent as part of a send-receive agreement or a constituent relationship?
A: Any choice student who reaches the terminal grade level of the choice school district either (1) returns to the resident district or to the resident district's receiving school if the receiving school has the requisite grade level; or (2) applies to and is accepted into another choice school district with the requisite grade level. In this second scenario, when a choice student needs to change school districts because they have completed the terminal grade, they must reapply to another choice district with the desired grades.
However, if the choice district in which the choice student has completed the terminal grade has a send-receive agreement or a constituent relationship with a choice district with the requisite grades, the receiving choice district may give enrollment preference to the choice student. If the receiving choice district decides to give enrollment preference to choice students from its sending district, it must develop an acceptance policy that is equitable and defensible. A high school choice district must develop an enrollment policy that states the preferences allowed.
If the student wants to apply to a choice district, the STUDENT APPLICATION TIMELINE For the 2016-17 SCHOOL YEAR and regular application process should be followed:
Q: How should a choice district count the number of open/available seats as required in their Program Profile?
A: A choice district should count all seats for which a student application is required. This excludes any students who will convert automatically to choice students (e.g., tuition students) in its first year as a choice district. It includes siblings and students for whom an enrollment preference is given according to the board's enrollment policies (e.g., students from sending schools in send-receive agreements).
Q: How can a choice district revise the number of choice seats it offers in its profile?
A: Provided a district does not exceed its approved maximum number of seats, a choice district can revise the number of seats it offers in its profile and send an updated/revised program profile to the NJDOE program office. The NJDOE will post on the website all updated choice program profiles for parents to identify and learn about available choice options. This information should be provided to the NJDOE on an annual basis so that the website can be updated with the most current information.
Q: Must a choice district fill all of the choice seats advertised in its profile, or can the district choose to fill fewer seats?
A: A choice district must fill all of the choice seats advertised in its profile if it receives enough student applications to do so.
Q: When is a student applying for enrollment in a choice program for kindergarten considered tier 1?
A: There are 2 categories of students that will be tier 1 when applying to a choice program for kindergarten:
Q: What is the application process for students who are enrolled in a charter school?
A: Charter school students are considered to be tier 1 in terms of their choice district application status. Either the chief school administrator of the charter school or the resident district superintendent should get the Confirmation of Enrollment for verification as Tier 1 from the choice district and verify it by 12/11/15.
Q: How are preferences handled in the application process?
A: Choice districts may give enrollment preference in the application process to students in the following circumstances (the district must post its enrollment policies on its website):
Choice districts also may give preference among students applying to kindergarten to those with siblings in the district.
Choice applicants with enrollment preference can only enroll in a Choice-approved grade/program and must meet any program-specific criteria. They are also subject to any space limits set by the district.
Students granted preference may be put ahead of Tier 1 applicants and need not be entered into a lottery with Tier 1 applicants. However, if there are more 'preference' students than open seats, there may need to be a lottery of preference students.
Q: How does sibling preference work?
A: The district may give enrollment preference to applicants who have a sibling currently attending the choice district, provided they will enroll in a choice-approved grade/program and they meet any program-specific criteria AND THE DISTRICT HAS SEATS AVAILABLE IN THE DESIRED GRADES.
A choice district may also grant sibling preference for siblings applying to the choice program in the same year, in accordance with board policy, such that if one sibling applicant is admitted to the choice program, his/her sibling will also be admitted, provided that a choice seat is available in that grade and he/she meets any program-specific criteria. The NJDOE will not provide special dispensation (additional seats above the enrollment maximum) for new sibling applicants. If choice districts develop a board policy granting sibling preference to new sibling applicants, they must devise a lottery that is fair and equitable.
A district that selects one twin applicant for enrollment but is unable to select the other twin due to their maximum enrollment cap may seek special dispensation from the NJDOE so that both twins can be enrolled in the choice program. The district must have a preference policy for siblings applying to the choice program in the same year, which states that if one sibling applicant is admitted to the choice program, his/her sibling will also be admitted, provided that the district has a seat available in that grade and he/she meets any program-specific criteria. The NJDOE will not provide special dispensation (additional seats above the enrollment maximum) for new sibling applicants, except in the case of twins. If a choice district develops a board policy granting sibling preference to new sibling applicants, it must devise a lottery that is fair and equitable. Please contact email@example.com by Jan. 16 to request dispensation for twins.
Choice districts may grant preference to students applying to kindergarten to those with siblings already in the choice program.
Q: What are the requirements for conducting lotteries?
A: When a choice district receives more applications than there are spaces available, the choice district must hold a public lottery to determine which students may participate in the choice program. The following processes are required:
For some helpful hints on how one choice district conducts its lottery, please visit "Resources."
Q: What types of public lotteries can be held?
A: Here are two examples of types of lotteries that districts may choose to use:
Group lottery: Applications for all grade levels are combined into one group lottery. Students' names/numbers are drawn randomly and seats are filled according to the grade-levels of the applicants and the seat availability in the grades. A waitlist is created for all applicants whose names/numbers are drawn after the seats have been filled.
Tiered or grade-level lottery: One or more grade levels are given priority in the lottery process. For each grade-level that is given priority by the district, a separate lottery is held. In other words, all applicants for the same priority grade-level are pooled and names are randomly drawn. Once available seats for the priority grade are filled and a waitlist is created, another lottery for the next priority grade level is held. Once all priority grade level lotteries have been held and waitlists are created, the remaining applications for the non-priority grades levels can be grouped into a group lottery.
Q: Can a choice district add additional choice seats after the Jan. enrollment data submission deadline if it has not reached its approved enrollment maximum?
A: No additional choice students can be added after the Jan. enrollment data submission deadline, with the following two exceptions:
The district will only be funded in the subsequent year up to the enrollment number provided to the NJDOE as of the Jan. choice data submission.
Q: Can choice districts continue to accept student applications after the application deadline?
A: Choice districts may add students and accommodate late applicants up to their FY2017 approved choice enrollment maximum until the data submission deadline, Jan. 22, 2016. No additional choice students can be added after Jan. 22, 2016, with the following two exceptions:
The district will not be funded for more than the enrollment number provided to the NJDOE as of the January ASSA choice data submission.
Q: Under what circumstances can a choice district reject applicants? What process must a district follow?
A: The circumstances warranting rejection of an applicant who meets the eligibility requirements are limited, according to statute:
18A:36B-20 Applications by student to choice district.
A choice district shall not prohibit the enrollment of a student based upon a determination that the additional cost of educating the student would exceed the amount of additional State aid received as a result of the student's enrollment. A choice district may reject the application for enrollment of a student who has been classified as eligible for special education services pursuant to chapter 46 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes if that student's individualized education program could not be implemented in the district, or if the enrollment of that student would require the district to fundamentally alter the nature of its educational program, or would create an undue financial or administrative burden on the district.
A student whose application is rejected by a choice district must be provided with a written reason for the rejection in the Notice of Rejection.
The appeal of a rejection notice may be made by parents to the Commissioner, through the Bureau of Controversies and Disputes. To learn more about this appeals process, see the Bureau's FAQs. The code for appeals can be found here: http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap3.pdf and http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap4.pdf
Q: What must a student who is in a non-public school file with his/her resident district if they apply to or are accepted into a choice district?
A: All non-public and public school students who attend public schools in the state must be registered with their resident district, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:38-1, et seq., and N.J.A.C. 6A:22-1.1, et seq., so non-public school students intending to enroll in a choice district should register with their resident district by Jan. 2016. If the student receives a Notice of Conditional Acceptance in the choice program and sends the Notice of Intent to Enroll to the choice district, it is the responsibility of the choice district to send enrollment notification to the student's resident district by 1/15/2016, as per the STUDENT APPLICATION TIMELINE For the 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR. The choice district must also send the transportation requests for all their enrolled students to the resident district by March 15, 2016.
Q: If a resident or choice student is enrolled in a choice district and that student moves, can the student stay in the choice district for the remainder of the current school year?
A: If a resident or choice student moves while enrolled in a choice district, the parents/guardians of the student decide if he/she will stay for the remainder of the school year. However, the student's status for the subsequent year depends on additional factors. Please read the following FAQs.
Q: If a resident student is enrolled in a choice district and that student moves, can the student stay in the choice district? What are the processes that the student and district must undertake for budgeting and reporting?
A: In the case where a resident student moves out of a choice district during the school year and the student is enrolled in a choice-approved grade or program, the parents/guardians of the student make the decision to remain in the choice district until the end of the current school year or move the student to the new resident district. If the student remains in the choice district, the student becomes an unfunded choice student for the remainder of the school year and the new resident district then becomes responsible for providing transportation for the student.
The following process should be used by the choice district:
Q: What happens to this student in the subsequent year—will he/she be allowed to remain in the district as a choice student?
A: Resident students who move before the application deadline of Dec. 1, 2015, need to apply for a choice seat in FY2017 just like other choice applicants. However, the district can give them enrollment preference and accept them ahead of other applicants, provided that there are choice seats available in the choice-approved grades/programs and the students meet any program-specific criteria. No special enrollment dispensation (i.e., additional choice seats above the NJDOE –approved enrollment maximum) will be provided for these students – the district cannot automatically convert/roll them over to choice status in FY2017. If enrollment preference is granted, this policy needs to be clearly posted on the district's website.
Resident students who move after the application deadline of Dec. 1, 2015, may be given special consideration. Students in this situation may apply as late applicants and be given a choice seat, PROVIDED that 1)there are choice seats available in the choice-approved grades or programs; 2) the students meet any program-specific criteria; and 3) the district has NOT reached its approved choice enrollment maximum. Districts would not receive funding for these students in FY2017 unless they are included in the Jan. 22, 2016 data submission, though they would be funded in subsequent years. If the district has already reached its approved choice enrollment maximum, this special consideration will not apply. This enrollment policy needs to be clearly posted on the district's website.
Q: If a choice student is enrolled in a choice district and that student moves, can the student stay in the choice district the following year? What are the processes that the student and district must undertake for budgeting and reporting?
A: If a choice student is attending school in a choice district and moves to another district, that choice student is eligible to remain in the choice district as a choice student without application. The new resident district then becomes responsible for providing transportation.
The following process should be used:
Q: Is the Student's Notice of Intent to Enroll in the Choice District binding, and do students/families have to make a commitment to attend the choice district for a year?
A: Although we discourage applicants to choice programs from changing their mind after they have returned the Notice of Intent to Enroll, there is no penalty for students who later decide not to participate in a choice program or leave the choice district after acceptance. There is also no restriction on students enrolling in their resident district at any time. We hope and encourage choice students to uphold their commitment and remain in their choice district until the terminating grade.
Q: Can a student apply to attend a choice district during the current school year if the choice district agrees to accommodate the student and absorb the cost in the first year?
A: According to the NJDOE code (http://www.state.nj.us/education/code/current/title6a/chap12.pdf ): "A choice student applicant may seek from the Commissioner by a showing of good cause a waiver of the student application deadlines" in order to seek immediate enrollment in the current school year. (See the Q&A below and fact sheet on the waiver process.) Parents/guardians must request a waiver from the Commissioner by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students with approved waivers can "bump" students on waitlists and may be accommodated even if the district exceeds its approved enrollment maximum.
Q: What constitutes "good cause," whereby a student may be granted a waiver from the application deadline from the Commissioner?
A: Waivers will be granted by the Commissioner only if there is a compelling reason. Waivers will not be granted for "convenience" reasons such as missing the application deadline. Please refer to the fact sheet on the waiver process.
Q: Can a resident district limit the number of students that can participate in the choice program?
A: There are currently no districts that have been granted approval to limit the number of students that can participate in the choice program. While the choice law does provide for special circumstances whereby a resident district can limit the number of its students that can participate in the choice program, Commissioner approval is required. Read the Guidance for Districts Seeking Approval of Board Resolutions Limiting Student Participation in the Interdistrict School Choice Program.
Q: Can teachers' children be given preference for available school choice seats?
A: No, the district cannot give choice enrollment preference to employee's children. They will have to go into your choice program lottery. However, those who don't make it via the lottery can be accepted outside the choice program as non-resident, non-tuition children of a teaching staff (explained below).
Q. What are our options to allow teachers' children to attend our choice schools? What funding would the district be eligible for? What codes would need to be used for ASSA and NJSMART reporting? Are the families eligible for transportation reimbursement?
A: Any teacher's children who already attend a choice district tuition-free cannot convert automatically to choice status. To become choice students, they must apply to the choice program and be admitted just like any other choice student applicants.
If the teachers' students do not become choice students through the application process (i.e., they are not selected through the lottery or the district does not have open choice seats for them), the students may remain in the district as "non-resident, non-tuition children of a teaching staff member" (explained below), which is outside the choice program.
Non-resident, non-tuition children of a teaching staff member:
For teaching staff children who are not accepted as choice students, the district can still accept them as "non-resident, non-tuition children of a teaching staff member." The district must adopt a policy (or CBA) to accept children of teaching staff as non-resident, "non-tuition children of a teaching staff member," which is outside the choice program. Choice rules DO NOT apply to these students: they would not receive choice funding and would not be treated like choice students (e.g., they would not be eligible for transportation services). Here's how to account for them in NJSMART and ASSA: