Frequently Asked Questions for Parents
Topics (click on the topic below to go directly to related Q&A):
- What are the definitions of a Tier 1 and a Tier 2 student?
- Are late applications accepted?
- What is the purpose of the Intent to Participate form and who should fill out the Confirmation of Student Enrollment/Eligibility to Participate form?
- Where can I find a Student Application for Enrollment in a Choice District?
- 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?
- Can a Choice program use criteria for enrollment that is based on student performance, including test scores or grade point?
- My child is applying to a Choice District for Kindergarten. Will he/she be considered a Tier 1 or Tier 2 applicant?
- What are the requirements for conducting lotteries?
- Under what circumstances can a choice district reject applicants? Can my child be rejected if he/she has an IEP? What process must a district follow?
- What is the application process for students who are enrolled in a charter school?
- If my child applies to a Choice District this fall, when will he or she actually begin school in that district if accepted?
- Is my Resident District obligated to guarantee my child transportation if our Choice District is within 20 miles of our residence?
- Will new Choice Districts be added to the program and when?
- If I already have a child enrolled as a Choice student in a Choice District, what options do I have for Choice enrollment for other siblings?
- 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?
- My child was a tuition student in a district that just recently became a Choice District. How does this affect my child?
- If we live in a Choice District and my child is enrolled in our public school but we move to another district, can my child stay in our old Resident Choice District? What are the processes we must go through?
- If my child is a Choice Student and we move to a new Resident district how does this affect my child?
Tier 1 and Tier 2
A: A Tier 1 student must be enrolled in a NJ public school in his or her resident school district for the entire year immediately preceding enrollment in a choice district. A student who attends public school in his/her resident school district but moves during the school year and attends public school in his/her new district of residence for the remainder of the school year satisfies the one-year requirement for Tier 1. Charter school students are considered to be Tier 1. If applying for kindergarten, a student must be attending his or her resident district's public preschool or, if that district does not offer preschool, have a sibling currently attending the choice district.
Choice districts must first fill their available seats with Tier 1 students. If the number of Tier 1 applications exceeds the number of choice seats available, the choice district must hold a lottery to randomly select students.
Tier 2 students include NJ residents who have not attended their resident public school for the entire year immediately prior to enrollment in the desired Choice district and do not otherwise meet the requirements for Tier 1.
Choice districts are not obligated to accept Tier 2 students. If a choice district accepts Tier 2 applicants, they may do so only after all of the qualified Tier 1 applicants have been accepted. If the number of Tier 2 applications exceeds the number of choice seats available, the choice district must hold a lottery to select of students. Parents should contact their desired choice district to find out if they accept Tier 2 applications. Choice districts must state their policy regarding Tier 2 students in their School Choice enrollment policies.
Accepting Late Applications
A: Districts may accept applications received after the deadline (Dec. 7, 2012) but before the enrollment data submission deadline (Jan. 14, 2013 for Tier 1 and Feb. 11, 2013 for Tier 2) but the applicants will be eligible for enrollment only after any applicants on the Tier 1 and Tier 2 waitlists have been accepted and if a choice seat is still available. No applications received after the enrollment data submission deadlines will be considered.
Student Application Process
A: The primary purpose of the Confirmation of Student Enrollment/Eligibility to Participate form is to help the choice district designate the applicant as either Tier 1 or 2. The form should be sent to the applicant's current resident district so it can indicate whether the student is or is not currently enrolled in his/her district of residence. If the resident district fails to provide confirmation of the student's enrollment/eligibility to participate to the parent or guardian by the determined deadline, the student may apply to the choice program without it. The student should provide a signed and dated receipt for the delivery of the Notice of Intent to Participate Form and include with his/her application.
A: Each Choice District prepares and provides its own Student Application. Contact the individual district to which you wish to apply to obtain an application. Choice District contact information can be found here.
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 determine 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.
A: A Choice program cannot discriminate in admission policies on the basis of intellectual aptitude, athletic ability, English language proficiency, status as a handicapped person, or any basis prohibited by State or federal law. However, if a Choice District limits admission to a special choice program with a particular area of concentration, it may evaluate prospective students on their interest in the program if such criteria is non-discriminatory between Choice and Resident students, is proven to be justifiable for the specific program, and has been approved by the Department of Education.
A: Students applying to Kindergarten are considered Tier 2 unless they attend a public pre-school program offered by their Resident District or, if their Resident District does not offer a public pre-school program, they have a sibling currently attending the same Choice District.
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:
- Before conducting the lottery, the choice district may give preference to siblings of students already enrolled in and attending the choice district; these students do not need to be entered into the lottery.
- The choice district must assign a number to each student participating in the lottery and notify the parent or guardian of the lottery process, the date and time it will be held, and what number has been assigned to the applicant.
- The choice district must develop a waiting list for those students not selected for admission in the lottery and must let the families know the student's number on the waiting list.
- The choice district must inform students of conditional acceptance or rejection by the determined deadline.
- If a student application is rejected, the choice district must include a reason for the rejection.
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. 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
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 Intent to Participate form and fill out the Confirmation of Student Enrollment/Eligibility to Participate.
A: For applications submitted by December 7, 2012, students will begin in the Choice District in the 2013-2014 school year. It is important to note the steps and timelines for this process to ensure that your child is eligible and applies in time. The timelines and steps for applying to the program can be found here.
A: Your Resident District is obligated to provide either transportation or aide in lieu of transportation. Physical transportation will be provided unless the annual cost exceeds $884. If the transportation costs more than $884, you are given two options: 1. you may choose to accept $884 as aide in lieu of transportation and take responsibility for your child's transportation, or 2. you can pay the Resident District the additional cost above $884 and get transportation provided by the district. Please be aware that you will not receive the Resident District's confirmation regarding transportation until August 1, 2013.
New Choice Districts
A: New applications to become a Choice District are submitted every April. The list of newly approved Choice Districts for 2013-14 was released in August. Information on the programs offered and number of seats available are posted on the Department of Education website.
A: Siblings of Choice students may receive enrollment preference if applying to the same Choice District, so it is advised to inquire with the Choice District. However, each child MUST complete the proper application process. Enrollment is not guaranteed if the number of sibling applicants exceeds the number of seats available, in which case a lottery will determine which Choice students will be able to enroll.
Student enrollment procedures for choice students in districts with send-receive agreements or in limited purpose regional districts
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 (a) returns to the resident school district if that school district has grades above the choice school district; (b) is sent to the receiving school district that the choice student's resident school district students attend; or (c) applies to and is accepted into another choice school district with the requisite grade level. In this last 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 school with the requisite grades and the receiving school is in a choice district, the receiving school choice district may give enrollment preference to the choice student from their sending district. If the receiving school choice district decides to give enrollment preference to choice students from their sending district, it must develop an acceptance policy that is equitable and defensible. A high school district should develop policy adopted by the board regarding choice student applicants and the preferences allowed.
If enrollment preference is granted, the following process should be used:
- The choice student must fill out the choice application for the receiving school.
- The new receiving district must notify the resident district of the student's change in enrollment by Jan. 14, 2013.
- The transportation request information for the student must be sent to the resident district by March 15, 2013.
A: Tuition students of districts recently approved as Choice Districts are automatically converted to Choice students with no need to file an application. However, the Choice District must maintain documentation of the student's changed status and the student must be registered with his/her Resident District to be enrolled as Choice student. If your child is not already registered, please contact your Resident District on instructions how to register and complete the process by February 11, 2013.
Enrollment of students who move from a choice district
Q: If we live in a Choice District and my child is enrolled in our public school but we move to another district, can my child stay in our old Resident Choice District? What are the processes we must go through?
A: In the case where a Resident student moves out of a Choice District, the parents/guardians of the student have the option of keeping the student in the Choice District until the end of the current school year or moving the student to the new resident district. If the student moves prior to the Choice Student Application deadline, the district will automatically convert the student's enrollment to a funded Choice student for the following year. If the student moves after the application deadline, the Choice District will decide whether or not to allow the student to remain in the Choice District as an unfunded Choice student in the subsequent school year and automatically convert the student to a funded Choice student the following year. Contact the Choice District to learn about their board policy regarding this situation.
A: A change of resident districts will not affect a Choice student's ability to continue in the Choice program. The new Resident District will be responsible for providing transportation. Immediately upon moving, you must register your child in your new Resident District and inform the District that your child is in the Choice program and will be requiring transportation from them.