Many schools are in the midst of their open enrollment process for the 2019-2020 school year. As a reminder, application and enrollment are two separate and distinct processes.
During the application period (open enrollment period) the school may only ask for basic information on the application completed by the parent that includes the student’s name, age, and address. This information is collected because it allows the school to ensure that the student will potentially be able to attend the school because they will be in a grade level that the school is authorized to serve and live in a geographic area approved by the state. Schools, however, may not ask for additional information such as achievement records, transcripts, or immunization records. Finally, an open-enrollment charter school must have a deadline date for the application period.
The application for enrollment must include a non-discrimination clause. An example of a non-discrimination clause would be “Superior Charter School does discriminate against students on the basis of sex, national origin, ethnicity, religion, disability, academic, artistic, or athletic ability or the district the child would otherwise attend”. As a reminder, you can’t ask for any of this information during the application period.
The term open enrollment means any student can apply to the charter school; the school's charter will specify any exceptions. The admissions policy must also describe a lottery process. A charter must use a lottery process when the number of applications to the school exceeds the number of available spaces. The lottery is conducted using information gathered during the application period.
Once a student is admitted, either with or without a lottery process (depending on space available), the enrollment process begins. It is only then that the school may request information about past academic achievement, medical history, and other pertinent school records including special education records.
A charter school may have an admissions policy that requires a student to demonstrate artistic ability if the school specializes in performing arts. No student auditions can be required prior to admission and enrollment at a charter school unless the charter school was originally approved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) or the commissioner of education as a performing arts school with an audition component or the charter was amended by the commissioner of education to designate the school as a performing arts school with an audition component.
A student may be ineligible for admission to a charter school based on a history of a criminal offense, a juvenile court adjudication, or discipline problems under Chapter 37, Subchapter A, only if the exclusion was specifically approved by the SBOE or commissioner of education when the charter was originally awarded, or if the charter was amended by the commissioner of education to allow this exclusion. It must be noted that the exclusion is allowed only for those serious discipline problems specified in Chapter 37, Subchapter A.
TEA Legal Division guidance states that if space is available, past the open enrollment period enrolling students for the next school year, an eligible student must be admitted and enrolled on any day at any time of the day and must be counted as and considered a charter student immediately. Open-enrollment charter schools cannot have specified days for admission and/or enrollment of students. State law does not allow for a trial enrollment period at a public school; therefore, there can be no period of time in which a student attends a charter school without being enrolled as a charter school student.
If you have any questions regarding the admission and enrollment process and what should be included on your application for enrollment, please contact Bruce Marchand or Elizabeth Cross at TCSA. We’re here to help!