Hartford Going Forward With School Lottery

Hartford Public Schools has broken with tradition and launched the Choice Lottery for its 35 non-magnet district schools ahead of the state magnet school lottery that has been delayed since April 5.
More than 2,000 Hartford students, entering PreK, Kindergarten and ninth grade in the fall, participated in the district lottery and are guaranteed placement in one of their four school choices.
Email notices, letting parents know where those students have been placed, began going out late Tuesday, according to Enid Rey, Director of the Hartford Public Schools Office of School Choice. The emails will be followed up with written letters confirming the placement and a response form asking parents if they accept the placement. Parents have until June 10, 2014 to return the form. If they do not respond by June 10, they lose the placement.
Typically, the district lottery is held after the State Department of Education’s Regional School Choice Office carries out the magnet school lottery to give families a second option if their children are denied placement in a magnet school.
“Running the lottery at this time is an important step in supporting parents and reducing anxieties about the upcoming school year,” said Dr. Jacqueline Jacoby, Special Assistant to the Hartford Board of Education. “Our families deserve actionable information so that they can make good educational decisions for their children.”
Among the factors that went into the decision to proceed with the district lottery, Ms. Rey said, were that the end of the school year is only two weeks away and families need to start planning for the following school year. She also noted that a significant number of Hartford parents by pass the magnet lottery and only complete the district choice application.
“I am using all the options available to me to ensure that my son gets a great education,” said Sewell Minto, a parent of eighth grade student in the North End who is transitioning into high school. “I applied to both the District Choice and the magnet lottery. Today, I found out that he was seated at the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology. I work in the technology industry and customer service is very important.”
The letters sent to parents underscore that accepting a placement in a Hartford district school does not affect possible placement in a magnet school.
“We have worked in good faith as a partner with the State Department of Education to minimize the confusion over lottery deadlines and to encourage Hartford families to use all their options in the Choice process,” Ms. Rey said. “However, this undue delay erodes the good rapport that we have worked so hard to establish with our local families. We have to respect the fact that our families have done their part – completed on time applications to both lotteries.”
David Medina

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