Are you expecting a pleasant school enrollment cycle this year? “Really?”, you ask, “Who actually is?” Believe it or not, there are charter schools around the country, who are expecting a pleasant, easy school enrollment cycle. “How can this be?”, you ask. Let me start by telling you the story of Helen Ratcliff, Registrar at the two-time Blue-Ribbon School of Excellence charter school Terrace Community Middle School in Tampa, Florida.
Helen Ratcliff, Registrar Extraordinaire!
This is Helen. Helen is your typical school Registrar; which means to say, much more than that. How many charter schools really can afford to have one person focus their full-time job on enrollment?
Helen is actually a superstar or maybe a superhero. She’s been on the job for over 15 years and has the process down to a science; a complex paper and excel driven process that requires constant upkeep.
You might know a superstar like Helen. There are so many, who too often remain the nameless heroes of our charter schools.
And, the stakes are high. Just one mistake could lead to an applicant being in the wrong spot on the waitlist, or worse, getting waitlisted instead of selected. Helen is a superstar because only a superstar could be THAT on top of things, that meticulous, that dependable and given all the stressors, anxiety and nervousness, still manage to rarely ever make a mistake. Thank goodness for Helen. That’s how her Principal, Tahvia Shaw, feels. That’s why Ms. Shaw let’s Helen have alone time and stay off-campus, so she can sort through all the names, contact all the parents, move applications up and down the waitlist, review enrollment forms, and more. You know how much more there is.
And, Ms. Shaw and Ms. Ratcliff have a bigger problem. After 15 years, Helen is ready to retire, and they are both petrified that the new person won’t be a superstar. After all, how many more undiscovered superstars are out there?
Don’t Get It Wrong Or You Will Pay!
Lisa Corr, Charter School Attorney at Young, Minney & Corr, LLP, presented “The Laws Regarding Student Admissions, Lottery Preferences and Outreach” at the 2018 California Charter School Conference. Her entire presentation can be found here. (https://www.charterconference.org/2017/68453217)
Yes, it’s that important that you get it right. It’s important enough that an attorney getting paid hundreds of dollars an hour would spend her time and energy educating people just like you on the Do’s and Don’ts of charter school lotteries and enrollment.
Article 20-2-2066 of the Georgia Charter School Law reads, “…all such applicants shall have an equal chance of being admitted through a random selection process…” The law goes on to identify 3 types of charter schools and 5 types of applicant exceptions to the law and the order of their exceptions! (https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2015/title-20/chapter-2/article-31/)
And, what is the penalty for not correctly following the rules? That’s uncomplicated, it’s written in Article 20-2-2068: “The state board may terminate a charter…”. And, all it takes is one disgruntled parent for the process to start.
The Parents that every child wants!
Angela Spieler is a fantastic Mom, wife and community member in Temple Terrace, Florida. A longtime resident of a well-known local family, her father a well-respected doctor, her husband a member of the city board, she took the responsibility of her children’s education very seriously.
Angela had the good fortune of having a top-rated charter school near her home and she hoped and prayed that her child would be selected in the lottery. Unfortunately for Angela, things didn’t quite work out. Her daughter was waitlisted, and every day Angela wanted to know if she had moved up the waitlist.
Glenn in High Point, North Carolina, is a different parent with the same problem. He and his wife, an elementary school teacher, discussed what to do. Back-and-forth they agonized over whether to call the school again and ask where their son was on the waitlist. Every time they called, the Registrar would say, “We’ll call you if he is selected.” And, what they knew she wouldn’t say was, “Please stop calling. I have to answer 15 calls a day from parents on the waitlist!”.
The Parents Who We Won’t Name!
Everyone one of the people in this blog are real. Even the ones in this paragraph. But, the parents in this paragraph will go unnamed. That’s because they are probably ashamed of what they did, and we don’t want to embarrass them. Even though you don’t know who they are… you know them. There is the one that tried to sign up their child twice in the lottery. And, the other one that entered the fifth-grader with no waitlist to get preference for the kindergartner and as soon as the kindergartner got selected, they withdrew the fifth-grader. They never intended on sending the fifth grader to the school anyway. That was just a tricky technique to beat the odds. Oh, how about the one who entered their 4-year-old into Kindergarten and it wasn’t discovered until after enrollment? Even superstars make mistakes. How can you stop these confusing, messy, poor outcomes?
The Only Paragraph that You Must Read!
- Do you want an easy enrollment and lottery? You can have it.
- Do you want to take away the pressure of being robotically flawless? Yes, that is yours too.
- Do you want to dissipate your fears of accidentally breaking the charter law? Not a problem.
- Did you always think, “There must be an easier way?” You were right, there is.
- Do you want more time to help your school with other things? It’s yours.
All of these problems have been alleviated by schools across the country by using Lotterease.
Every application in Lotterease, has a complete audit trail which you can view at any time to explain exactly how an application moved on the waitlist.
You’re going to see a large reduction in phone calls from parents!
The solution to your enrollment and lottery woes is only a click away. Go to www.lotterease.com and click on ‘Buy Now’ to register your school or ‘Contact’ to request more information. You are under no obligation to purchase. Take this opportunity to learn how you can help your school perform at its best.
What happened to Helen?
Fortunately for Helen and Ms. Shaw, they purchased Lotterease before Helen retired. Samantha, the new Registrar, picked up Lotterease in no time and Helen could retire knowing that she didn’t leave her school in a lurch.
Have schools actually been sued for mishandling their lottery?
Absolutely. There was a case in Florida with a school that did not use Lotterease. The attorney who defended the school currently advises schools to use Lotterease to help avoid future lawsuits.
Did Angela’s or Glenn’s children get into their charter schools?
Angela’s daughter got in with only 35 days left before school started. Fortunately for Angela, and the Registrar, the school was using Lotterease, and Angela went online every day to see her daughter’s position on the waitlist instead of calling the school.
Unfortunately for Glenn, his son did not get selected and the school he applied to did not use Lotterease so he had to call again to find out and the whole experience left him and his wife with a negative impression of that school and the lottery process in general.
What about those unfair parents who tried to cheat the system?
All of those true stories happened at schools using Lotterease and each of those parents were unsuccessful.
- Lotterease will not allow duplicate entries of children.
- Lotterease will place the kindergarten application back to its original position when the fifth-grader is withdrawn.
- Lotterease will not allow a parent to enter a four-year-old into Kindergarten.
Thank you for learning about Lotterease. I hope that it has been enjoyable and educational!
Dr. Cyril Spiro