Explanation Letter

Clarification of Registration Process

May 18, 2018

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

I want to provide clarification to you on how our registration process works. As I’m sure you are aware, the Montclair School District has been under a State desegregation order since 1967. This Desegregation order clearly states that schools must be racially balanced and a formula was created by the Board of Education years ago to adhere to this order. (See Board Policy - 5122 here.)

The current formula sets up three registration zones. As parents, you request a variety of schools in preference order and this information is placed into that formula or algorithm to place the highest number of students in their highest ranked preference of schools, while adhering to the formula. All schools have a cap on the number of students from each zone that can attend a particular school, according to the total enrollment for the specific grade - which impacts class size. In some incidences, based on the number of students from a zone requesting a particular school, your child could be assigned to a school less than your first or second preference.

Submitting a School Placement Request (SPR) form does not guarantee your request can be honored. We try our best to balance the schools, again by adhering to the formula for placement and the number of requests made. For elementary SPRs, we try to place students in their top 3 ranked schools, although this is not always possible. The same situation applies for middle school - your child could be assigned to your first, second, or third preferred school, which is often the student’s “feeder” school from his/her elementary school.

The only students that are placed ahead of the algorithm/formula, are students with specific special needs which can only be met at specific schools or students requiring English Language Learner programming.

Montclair does not have neighborhood schools and therefore there is no basis for students being assigned to schools within the zone in which they live.

Again, Montclair does not have a choice school program. This is where the confusion exists. We have a selection program based on a Federal desegregation ruling which is implemented by zone in order to maintain the diversity and uniqueness of our public schools for which many parents move to Montclair. Within the selection program, one of the criteria allows parents to rank their preference of schools for consideration during the placement process.

Under no circumstances can the Superintendent of Schools or the Registrar change your final assignment. Changing the assignment is prohibited by Board policy. The only time assignments are changed is when students are placed on a waiting list in one building and space becomes available at a higher ranked school, and also meets the criteria for zone balancing. There is no appeal process. We are governed by district policies, and state mandate.

Our information distributed to parents through the Genesis portal details the process that will occur during the coming months, and reiterates that the district cannot communicate with all parents regarding their desire to have their child’s placement changed.

In the last few years, we moved the process earlier, in an effort to make changes, confirm placements, etc. in advance of the summer, and we are devoting our time and efforts to those actions.

Thank you,

Dr. Felice A. Harrison-Crawford
Director of Operations and School Support Services

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