A St. Paul mom's concern about the application process for her son to apply to a charter school may force many more Minnesota charters to change their student application processes.
The schools are asking for more information than state law allows, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. The information - such as whether students are receiving special education services or their ethnicity - could be used to deny admission.
A perusal of charter school websites by the Star Tribune quickly found a dozen schools asking for details about prospective students that go too far. Officials were quick to point out they have no evidence that schools used this information to deny admission.
Because of the complaint Linda Winsor filed after her son's failed efforts to enroll at Twin Cities Academy High School in St. Paul, the state will review charter school applications…
Winsor's son - who will be in the 11th grade this fall - did not gain entry to Twin Cities Academy High School after its school board decided in May to accept only ninth-grade applicants for 2007-08. But Winsor complained to the state, questioning why the application asked for information such as special education needs and copies of transcripts. The school later also asked students to submit a written essay.
None of that is allowed. And state officials told Twin Cities Academy on May 23 to change its application.
State law prohibits screening, allowing charters to limit enrollment only if they have limited space. Then, schools must institute a lottery.
"The founders of the law did not want screening," said Chas Anderson, deputy state education commissioner. Anderson said schools can collect that information - after they've accepted a student for enrollment.
"Obviously, if you enroll a student, you want to get their educational records from the prior school," she said. "That's important information to have, but it should never be part of the admissions process."…
The only information charter schools should ask for on their applications, Anderson said, is name, age and contact information…
But in a letter to Wynne, the state Education Department said its interpretation of state law prohibits asking for more than name, grade and contact information…
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CHARTERS ASK FOR TOO MUCH INFO; SOME CHARTER SCHOOLS SEEK MORE DATA THAN THEY SHOULD ON PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS. OFFICIALS SEE NO SIGN IT IS USED TO DENY ADMISSION; July 10, 2007; Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)