Section J - Students
Policy Title: School Choice: Applications, Continuance and Transportation
Policy Code: JFB-R2
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Per Policy JFB, each student shall be assigned to an attendance zone school based on the student's legal address. A student wishing to enroll at a school other than his or her attendance zone school may apply to another school through Open Enrollment or the Magnet Program or they may be placed as a Magnet Pipeline student per JFB-R3.
"Family Centers" refers to District-level center(s) designed to provide information to families about a number of subjects, including enrollment options, the availability of transportation, and the District's academic programs and offerings by location.
"Gifted and Talented Education" and "GATE" refer to educational services designed to meet the academic needs of gifted students and those who have potential for high achievement.
"Magnet Schools and Programs" refers to a program within a school or a school which focuses on a theme or specific instructional approach, such as a specific academic area, a particular career or a specialized learning environment; attracts students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds; and encourages students to choose a school other than their attendance boundary school to participate in the magnet theme or instructional approach offered at that program or school.
"Open Enrollment" refers to the student assignment provision permitting any District student to apply to attend any school with capacity, pursuant to ARS 15-816 et seq. and Section (II)(G) of the Unitary Status Plan Order.
"School Choice" is the provision of parent/student options to attend schools other than the student's attendance zone school through Open Enrollment or Magnet programs.
"Priority Window" is a period of time, typically from early November to mid-December, during which applications are accepted for the first lottery.
Attendance in Magnet Schools/Programs
Schools designated as Magnet Schools/Programs may or may not also have a dedicated attendance zone. Students who reside in a school attendance zone with a Magnet Program are automatically enrolled at that school; however, high school students who want to attend the Magnet Program must apply for the Program.
Attendance through Open Enrollment
Open Enrollment provides the opportunity for parents to enroll their student in a school outside the student's neighborhood attendance zone within the District on a space available basis.
A student may apply to attend any school which has open enrollment availability within the Tucson Unified School District, regardless of where the student lives. Open enrollment allows a student to enroll in the school that best meets his/her needs without regard to attendance zone boundaries.
Each school is required to serve the students who live within its attendance zone prior to accepting any students from outside its attendance zone or from outside the District. Students residing inside the District receive priority over students residing outside the District.
School Choice Application Procedures
- Students who wish to attend a Magnet School/Program must submit a School Choice Application (JFB-E1). Applicants may apply for a maximum of three school choices, including Magnet Programs, Magnet Schools and Open Enrollment Schools.
- Applications are available at all school sites, online, at School Community Services and at the Family Engagement Centers.
- Falsification of any section of an Open Enrollment/Magnet School Application will nullify the application.
- Parents who are moving to a new, known address the following year may use that address as their home address in the application. Military personnel may use the general DMAFB address or their place of employment as their home address until they are assigned or acquire a residence.
- All applications must be submitted to School Community Services via email, U.S. Mail or school mail during the Priority Window to be included in the first lottery.
- Applications may be submitted to schools. Schools receiving applications must date-stamp the application, provide a copy to the parent/guardian and forward the application to School Community Services within 24 hours.
- Applicants are selected by priority as described in Policy JFB and JFB-R4.
- Applications received after the deadline will be placed in subsequent lottery pools.
- Receipt of an application does not indicate admission.
- Students who remain continuously enrolled in the school/program do not need to submit an application every year; however they need to meet the conditions of continuance outlined below.
- Students who leave a school or program lose their placement in that program and must reapply.
- Students who are offered placement will receive an acceptance letter and contract for admission, which must be signed by the parent/legal guardian and returned to School Community Services.
- Students who are not accepted may reapply for the following year.
Appeal of Magnet School/Program Placement
Parents/legal guardians have the right both to review and appeal the School Choice selection decision through the following appeals process:
- Upon request of the parents/legal guardians, a conference will be scheduled with School Community Services in an effort to clarify the factors involved in the decision. Every attempt will be made to resolve the concern.
- If the issues/concerns are not resolved through this conference, parents/legal guardians may submit a letter stating reasons for the appeal, including additional pertinent information and documentation to the appropriate Assistant Superintendent.
- This letter will be reviewed by the Assistant Superintendent.
- Parents/legal guardians will be notified in writing the outcome of their appeal within ten (10) business days.
Conditions of Continuance in Open Enrollment or in a Magnet School/Program
Acceptance to attend a school through School Choice is granted for the entire length of the program (elementary, middle, high schools); however, students may be reviewed annually for continuation, in the subsequent school year, based on the following areas:
- Satisfactory Attendance and Timely Arrival (see Policy JE and JE-R – Student Attendance).
- Falsification of any section of a School Choice application will nullify the application and may result in removal of the student from the Magnet School/Program.
If a student's continuance is in jeopardy, based on the conditions described above, ongoing communication, including personal contacts, at least quarterly with the student and the parents/legal guardians is required before non-continuance from the school/program (notification per Policy JE-R applies). The evidence of communication and interventions must be provided to the appropriate Director before a final decision for non-continuance is rendered.
A final decision letter, from the School Community Services, will be mailed to the parent/legal guardian (copy the school principal and the appropriate Assistant Superintendent) no later than May 1 if the student will not be returning to the school/program. After the decision for non-continuance, the principal will work with the student's parent, the receiving school and appropriate District resources to facilitate the transition to the receiving school.
Parents may appeal the decision to the appropriate Assistant Superintendent. Such appeal must be received by June 1 and will be acted on within 10 days.
District resident magnet pupils are eligible for transportation if outside the walk zone as defined by Policy EEA – Student Transportation Policy. Magnet students who move out-of-district no longer qualify for transportation.
Transportation for Open Enrollment students must be furnished by their parents or guardians except as provided by the Unitary Status Plan per Policy EEA – Student Transportation. Open Enrollment students who receive Incentive Transportation under the USP, and move, will be reevaluated for transportation eligibility.
Homeless and disabled students will be transported in accordance with State and Federal law.
- Special Education – Applications from the parents of special education students for enrollment in a Magnet School/Program shall be considered in accordance with applicable state and federal laws. (A.R.S. §15-891) The student's current Individual Education Plan (IEP) shall be used to determine if the requested school or program can meet the student's needs.
- Gifted & Talented Education (GATE) and University High School placements are addressed in separate processes. (Policy IHBB – Gifted and Talented Education)
Adopted: June 26, 2015 (Friday Report)
Legal Ref: A.R.S.15-816 et seq.
Cross Ref: Policy JE - Student Attendance; Policy IKE - Promotion, Retention, and Acceleration; Policy JB – Equal Educational Opportunities; Policy JC – Student Attendance Boundaries; Policy EEA – Student Transportation; Policy AC - Discrimination