SECTION 1. Subsection (n) of section 89 of chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraphs:--
Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, commonwealth or Horace Mann charter schools may enroll students using an opt-out admissions lottery process that automatically includes the names of all eligible students, without any required application process for the school. For a charter school that uses an opt-out admissions lottery process, all students who would be eligible to attend the school under the district’s assignment policy if it were a district school, shall be deemed eligible for enrollment in said charter school without any application process required for admittance to the school. An admissions lottery, including the names of all eligible students, shall be held to fill all of the spaces in that school. In the event that the parents or guardians of a student who is selected for admission to the charter school through the lottery determine not to enroll the student in the charter school, then the charter school shall fill that enrollment space with a student from the waiting list maintained pursuant to this subsection. Parents or guardians of a student may elect for that student to not participate in such enrollment lottery.
Commonwealth or Horace Mann charter schools may voluntarily offer enrollment preferences to students who reside in a specific geographical area within the district in which the school is located; provided, however, that within this geographical preference area, the percentage of low-income students is equal to or higher than the district’s overall percentage of low-income students. Any school that chooses to offer this preference must be located within its designated geographical preference area.
In addition to providing the information pursuant to subsection (e), any charter school that offers geographical enrollment preferences shall include in its application for approval: (i) a definition of the geographical area for which it will offer an enrollment preference; (ii) an explanation of how this preference will support the mission of the charter school and the academic performance of its students; (iii) evidence that within this geographical area there resides an equal or higher percentage of low-income students as the district as a whole; and (iv) an explanation of how the charter school will target its recruitment and retention efforts for students within this geographical area. When any charter school that chooses to offer a geographical preference seeks charter renewal and intends to continue applying the geographical preference, the board shall consider whether the preference area continues to support the mission of the charter school and the academic performance of its students, as well as whether the preference area continues to serve an adequate percentage of low-income students to qualify as a geographical preference area under this subsection.
In commonwealth charter schools that offer geographical enrollment preferences, students who reside within the geographical preference area shall have priority for enrollment in any open seats over students who reside in the city or town in which the charter school is located but outside of the geographical preference area. In Horace Mann charter schools that offer geographical enrollment preferences, priority for enrollment shall be given first to students actually enrolled in the school on the date the application is filed with the board and their siblings; second, to students who reside within the geographical preference area and are enrolled in the public schools of the district where the Horace Mann charter school is to be located; third, to other students who reside within the geographical preference area; fourth, to other students enrolled in the public schools of the district where the Horace Mann charter school is to be located but who reside outside of the geographical preference area; and fifth, to other students who reside outside of the geographical preference area but within the city or town in which the charter school is located.
Charter schools located within the same municipality may voluntarily establish a common lottery, which may provide student applicants with a single offer for admission.
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