New Mexico fee updates constitution faculty lottery tips | Training
Following reports that some New Mexico charter schools were demanding too much personal information on their lottery applications, the Public Education Commission unanimously decided on Friday to update the lottery guidelines for schools under their jurisdiction.
Now, no state-regulated charter school is allowed to circulate registration forms or require applicants to provide their home address before admitting a child.
“That will help [provide] Clarity for those who move forward, “said Commission Vice-Chair Glenna Voigt.
All government charter schools will receive a copy of the new guidelines, and compliance with the guidelines will become part of the performance framework the Public Education Commission uses to evaluate schools.
According to state guidelines, district and state charter schools must ask families for minimal information prior to randomly drawing children in the lottery to avoid the appearance of giving special preference to children with certain backgrounds.
If the number of applying students is below the school’s capacity, all students will be admitted. When there are more student applications than places, schools run a random lottery to decide who gets a place in the classroom.
Only after the children were admitted should schools ask for personal information, but a partial audit conducted by Pegasus Legal Services for Children this summer found that some schools requested information about children’s special educational needs before accepting it.
It also revealed that the University of New Mexico’s Albuquerque Institute of Math and Science had attached its lottery application to long registration forms that were supposed to be filled out once a child was accepted through the random lottery process.
At a public education commission meeting in August, Charter Schools director Corina Chavez said she had developed a database that tracks lottery applications in response to the report.
At that meeting, Chairwoman Patricia Gipson also noted that lottery applications had been a concern of the Commission for some time.
“I’ve been incredibly frustrated for years,” she said. “We brought it up several times. Unfortunately, it took so long to get through. Because when we brought up the complaints, it didn’t get any attraction.”
The state has also updated its FAQs online, providing more specific guidance to all schools that draft lottery applications.
The updated site states that charter schools are required to provide open enrollment for students and free and adequate education. She adds that lottery applications should not require any ethnic, racial, gender, religious or linguistic information from applicants.
State guidelines don’t state whether charter schools can ask prospective students if they need special training accommodation, but the website states that state applicants cannot be asked to provide this information.
“Since charter schools must be non-discriminatory, the FAQ tries to interpret how charter schools must be careful so that there are no real or perceived discrimination problems,” said Chavez.
In New Mexico and across the country, the laws about how charter schools should run a lottery after receiving applications still remain unclear. It is up to the individual schools, according to state instructions.
“I think there is an identified need to look at the lottery processes,” said Gipson.