House OKs bill to level playing field for charter school, mayoral academy lotteries


STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Edith H. Ajello aimed at leveling the playing field in lotteries for charter school and mayoral academy admissions.

The legislation (2022-H 7117A), which now goes to the Senate, would make entry into charter school lotteries universal among public school students eligible for each school, and allow parents and guardians to decline an invitation to enroll if their child is selected but they do not wish to have the child attend.

Currently, parents and guardians must take action to enter their children into charter and mayoral academy lotteries.

“As it is right now, the students who have involved, well-informed, educated parents are the ones who enter the lotteries and go to charter schools or mayoral academies, while kids without advantaged families tend to be left out. Those less-advantaged students are the ones most in need of the extra resources that charter schools offer, like longer school days or school years and lower teacher-student ratios. Making the lotteries inclusive of every eligible student will be a fairer system that is truer to the intention of the legislature when charter schools were established in law, which was, in part, was to provide laboratories for new ways of teaching and learning for all students,” said Representative Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence).

In addition to allowing parents to decline an invitation to a school if their child is selected through a lottery, the legislation also allows parents to decline to have their children entered into the lottery at all. The bill maintains provisions that allow enrollment priority for siblings of students currently enrolled and children of staff.

The change will not apply to those charter schools or mayoral academies that offer specialized training and education in specific fields of study or that target particular groups of students, such as pregnant or parenting teens.

The legislation is cosponsored by House Education Committee Chairman Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Rep. Rebecca Kislak (D-Dist. 4, Providence), Rep. Gregg Amore (D-Dist. 65, East Providence), Rep. Nathan W. Biah Sr. (D-Dist. 3, Providence), Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), Rep. David Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence),  Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence), Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) and Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket).