What is Montclair's magnet system all about?

Montclair’s magnet system exists for two reasons: to ensure racial balance in its schools and to provide what is called "parental choice.” That means that parents and students can choose which magnet theme they are most interested in, and apply for enrollment in the school that specializes in that theme. In most cases, parents’ first or second school choice is honored.

What are some of Montclair's magnet themes?

Science and technology, university studies, environmental studies, the arts, and global studies.

Is the high school part of the magnet system?

Montclair High School is not considered a school of "choice" because it is the only public high school in Montclair. However, MHS offers various programs and areas of study that build on the foundation put in place by the small learning communities, elementary and middle school programs.

Once parents have enrolled their child in a certain school, does the child have to stay there?

No. Parental choice is always in effect, and parents can move their children to another school if they believe that school would be a better fit for their child. This "freedom of choice" (request to transfer) option is available to parents in the spring of each year. Parents must file a Freedom of Choice Application and submit it to the Central Office by May 1st. A request to transfer to another school will be honored if there is space available and racial balance can be maintained.

How did the magnet system get started?

The magnet system was originally developed to provide racial balance and education equity in the public schools, and it still functions in that way to this day. In the 1970s, a group of Montclair parents filed a lawsuit against the Montclair Board of Education to protest unequal access to educational resources among the township’s racially segregated schools. The New Jersey Commissioner of Education at the time then ordered Montclair to develop a plan to provide racial balance in the schools. Based on parental input, two magnet schools were developed on opposite ends of town. Since the early 1970s, more elementary and middle schools became magnet schools. The last magnet school, Renaissance Middle School, was developed in September 1997. Montclair currently has seven elementary and three middle school magnets.

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