Student Application Process for Choice Districts
To initiate the student application process, the parent/guardian obtains and submits a Student Application for Enrollment to the choice district(s). Each district supplies its own unique application for its choice program. A student application template is available to assist in the application development. All student application forms must be made available on the choice district's website. The information provided on the application will determine a student's enrollment category. Student applicants fall into one of three categories: Tier 1 or Tier 2, or those with special enrollment preference.
- To be eligible as Tier 1, a student must be enrolled in a NJ public school in his or her resident school district for the entire year (2014-15) immediately preceding enrollment in a choice district, and must be verified as Tier 1 by their resident districts. Tier 1 students also include students in the following circumstances:
- Charter school students
- If a student moved during the year but attended the public school of both the old and new resident districts
- If applying for kindergarten, a student must be attending his or her resident district's public and free preschool or, if that district does not offer a public and free 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 students. Choice districts should post on their websites whether they accept Tier 2 applications.
- 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):
- Students who have siblings currently attending the choice district
- Choice students who have completed the terminal grade of the sending district (i.e., students who attend a choice district with grades that terminate before 12th grade and with a natural progression to another choice district)
- Resident students of the choice district who move out of the district and want to remain in the choice district the following year. For more information on policies for students who move, visit the website FAQs.
The application must be received by the choice district by December 1, 2014. See note at bottom regarding late applications.
Also by December 1, students who are currently registered with their resident districts must complete the Notice of Intent to Participate form and submit it to their resident districts. By law, a resident district must be informed if a student intends to participate in the choice program. The resident district is not required to respond to the notification. Students who are not Tier 1 do not need to complete this step.
The choice district must review all submitted applications
The information requested on the application will indicate whether or not a student is to be considered Tier 1. To confirm Tier 1 eligibility, the choice district must submit the applicant's information to his/her resident district, which then will verify whether or not that student has attended public school in the district during the current school year. The choice district must complete a Confirmation of Enrollment spreadsheet for each resident district from which it received student applications, listing each student's name, the school currently attending, and the current grade level.
The Confirmation of Enrollment spreadsheets must be submitted to every resident district by December 5.
The resident district will confirm whether or not each student was counted in the 2014 October ASSA and whether or not the student continues to be enrolled in the district. This confirms Tier 1 eligibility.
NOTE: If a student moved during the year but attended the public school of both the old and new resident districts, both districts must be contacted to confirm enrollment during the respective time periods. These students are also considered Tier 1.
The choice district must determine which applicants will be accepted and rejected and if a lottery is necessary.
- If an application is rejected (see the associated statute for circumstances allowing for rejection), the district must inform the parent/guardian by December 19 with a Notice of Rejection that includes a reason for the rejection.
- If by December 1 the Tier 1 applications number no more than the seats available, the choice district must send a Notice of Conditional Acceptance to each eligible applicant. The Notice of Conditional Acceptance should include a Notice of Intent to Enroll Form for the parent/guardian to complete. The choice district must deliver the Notice of Conditional Acceptance to the parent/guardian by December 19.
- If by December 1 the eligible applications number more than the seats available, the choice district must conduct a public lottery for those grades or programs in which the number of applications exceeds the number of available seats. The results of the lottery will determine which students will be accepted as choice students for the following school year and which students will be placed on the waiting list.
- The parent or guardian of each child who has submitted an application must be informed of the date and time that the lottery will take place.
- Each participant in the lottery must be assigned a number reflecting the student's place on the list of accepted students or on the waiting list.
- Upon completion of the lottery, the choice district must send to the parent or guardian of each student who has been accepted for enrollment into the district the Notice of Conditional Acceptance and a Notice of Intent to Enroll Form. These must be received by the parent or guardian by December 19.
- Upon completion of the lottery, the choice district also must notify the parent/guardian of each student placed on the waiting list as a result of the lottery. This notice must include information about the student's position on the waiting list and must be received by the parent or guardian by December 19.
Here are a few examples of the different 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.
Accepted students must complete the Notice of Intent to Enroll Form and return it to the choice district by January 6, 2015.
Each resident district must be informed if any of their resident students are participating in the choice program. If they are not already registered in the resident district, students should register with their district prior to January 16, 2015.
The choice district must send a copy of each student's Notice of Intent to Enroll to the respective resident district by January 16 to serve as notification.
To receive the correct amount of choice aid funding for choice students, the choice district must inform the Department of Education of its choice enrollment for 2015-16.
Submit the enrollment data to the Department of Education by January 23, 2015. This enrollment is final and cannot be adjusted after this deadline. If accepted students decline the offer to enroll in a choice program (by not sending in the Notice of Intent to Enroll Form by Jan. 6) and the district selects students from a wait list, this process must be completed by January 23 in order that an accurate final enrollment count can be submitted.
The resident district is responsible for the transportation of all eligible choice students. Visit the transportation procedures for more information. The choice district must send the resident district Transportation Requests for those students. If the student is currently in the terminal grade of their resident district, the request for transportation is sent to the receiving school with which the resident district has a send/receive agreement because it will be responsible for the student's transportation (as this is the school the student would have attended if he/she did not attend the choice school).
The requests must be received by March 15.
THIS COMPLETES THE STUDENT APPLICATION PROCESS
Late applications: Choice districts may accept late applications after December1,2014 but not later than the FY2016 NJDOE enrollment data collection on January 23, 2015. Within this time period, late applicants may be accepted if seats are available and may be added to the district's waitlist (if one exists), provided that the district does not exceed its approved enrollment maximum. After the FY2016 NJDOE enrollment data collection on January 23, 2015, no additional choice students can be added, with the following two exceptions:
- Districts with an enrollment preference policy allowing resident students who move after the application deadline to apply late may add choice students, provided that the district does not exceed its approved enrollment maximum.
- Districts that accept students who receive a waiver of the application deadline may enroll them at any time and may exceed the district's approved enrollment maximum.
Any choice seats added AFTER the NJDOE data collection (1/23/15) will be unfunded in SY2016.