|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and the Division on Civil Rights announced today that the Cape May County Technical School District has agreed to revise admission practices for its Cape May Technical High School to make the admissions process more equitable for students with disabilities.
Under a settlement agreement finalized between the Division on Civil Rights and the district, the Cape May Technical High School’s admissions practices will be revised as follows:
- Applicants for entry to the school will be evaluated solely on the basis of a specific set of objective criteria.
- The school has removed from its application all questions concerning whether the student seeking admission has been classified as being disabled.
- The school’s Admissions Committee will not have access to, or review, an applicant's Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as part of the admissions process, except where an applicant’s parent has specifically requested that the Committee do so.
- When a student who has applied for entry to the school is rejected, his or her parents will be notified of the specific reason for the denial and given an opportunity to appeal.
“When educational opportunities are offered on a competitive basis, or through a selection process, it’s important that all applicants be on equal footing, and that they be evaluated solely on their abilities – not their disabilities,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman.
Located in Middle Township, the Cape May Technical High School is a public high school that prepares students both for higher education and for careers in such fields as automotive repair, allied medical services, computer information and technology, cosmetology, commercial foods production and welding.
According to Division on Civil Rights Director Craig T. Sashihara, the Division reviewed the Technical School’s admissions practices in response to concerns raised by parents, educators and advocates. The Division’s review determined that the school has had a significantly lower percentage of students enrolled who are classified as having disabilities compared with other schools.
For example, the Technical High School’s percentage of students with disabilities was 1.25 percent in 2009 and 5.25 percent in 2010 -- well below the statewide average of 15 percent, and well below the county-wide average in Cape May County of approximately 17.6 percent.
Director Sashihara noted that a key element of the settlement agreement is removal of the IEP Plan review from the Technical School admission process, so that students are evaluated based on a set of objective qualifications. Another key aspect is that the school will now provide a specific explanation for denying student applications, which brings transparency to the process.
“Through this settlement, the school has created a set of policies and practices that foster greater equality in the student admissions process at Cape May Technical High School,” said Sashihara. “This is an important step, and I commend the school district for its readiness to embrace change once the issue was brought to its attention.”
The Director added that the Division on Civil Rights is currently looking at other schools with regard to the same issue, and that it intends to remain vigilant to ensure that students with disabilities are treated fairly and equally in all school admissions and enrollment processes.
Under the settlement agreement announced today, changes to the Technical High School’s admissions practices are voluntary, and the school acknowledges no liability or wrongdoing.
In addition to modifying its Technical School admissions policy, the Technical District School Board has agreed to provide training to staff members with respect to the admissions policy changes.
It also has agreed to provide the Division on Civil Rights with statistics pertaining to student admissions for the next three school years including the total number of applicants to the district, the total number of applicants with IEPs, and the number of applicants with IEPs who were accepted into the Technical High School.
Deputy Attorney James Michael, Deputy Attorney General Farng-Yi Foo and Investigator Marian Bland handled the Cape May Technical School matter on behalf of the State.