A Microsoft Word version of this letter is available for download and PRINTING.
July 28, 2011
TO THE CHARTER ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
Re: Admission, Enrollment and Withdrawal
This letter summarizes several important statutes relating to open-enrollment charter school admission, enrollment and withdrawal. We hope you will find this summary helpful as you begin the 2011-2012 school year. For more information addressing both charters and school districts, see the separate To the Administer Addressed letter regarding attendance, admission, enrollment records, and tuition.
I. Admission and Enrollment
As stated in the separate letter, §25.001  applies to open-enrollment charter schools for purposes of determining whether a student meets the residence requirements for the open--enrollment charter school designated geographical boundary. However, there are other considerations unique to charters that are discussed in this letter.
Unlike a school district, an open-enrollment charter school may have an application deadline  . Once the application deadline has expired, a charter school is required to accept all timely applications from students who meet the residency requirements for the open-enrollment charter school’s designated geographic boundary  up to the maximum enrollment capacity set out in the charter.
If a charter school has first enrolled all eligible applicants from its designated geographic boundary but its enrollment has not reached the maximum number of students approved in its charter, it may admit students from outside its designated geographic boundary in accordance with the terms of its charter.  If more students apply to the charter school than can be accommodated, a charter school should allocate spaces through a lottery process or fill available positions in the order in which applications were received before the application deadline if notice to the public is provided as required in by statute.  In order to receive federal Charter School Program (CSP) funds, a charter must provide a lottery. 
No student auditions can be required prior to admission and enrollment at a charter school unless the charter was originally approved by the State Board of Education (SBOE) as a performing arts school with an audition component or the charter was amended by the commissioner of education to designate the school a performing arts school with an audition component. 
A student may be ineligible for enrollment at a charter school based on a history of a criminal offense, a juvenile court adjudication, or discipline problems under Texas Education Code (TEC), Chapter 37, Subchapter A, only if the enrollment prohibition was specifically approved by the SBOE when the charter was originally awarded, or if the charter was amended by the commissioner of education to allow this enrollment prohibition. It must be noted that the enrollment prohibition is allowed only for those serious discipline problems specified in TEC Chapter 37, Subchapter A. 
As mentioned above, while there are specific statutes that allow audition components for performing arts charters and enrollment prohibitions for discipline problems as defined in TEC Chapter 37, Subchapter A, there are no statutes that allow for required parental interviews or attendance at meetings with school officials prior to admission or during their student’s tenure at the school. Likewise parents cannot be required to volunteer or make payment in lieu of volunteering as a condition of admission of enrollment at an open-enrollment charter school.
If space is available, an eligible student must be admitted and enrolled on any day at any time of the day and must be counted as and considered a charter student immediately. Open-enrollment charter schools cannot have specified days for admission and/or enrollment of students. State law does not allow for a trial enrollment period at a public school; therefore, there can be no period of time in which a student attends a charter school without being enrolled as a charter school student.
II. Withdrawal and Expulsion
A student who fails to comply with the charter school’s student code of conduct may not be administratively withdrawn. If a student commits an expellable offense, as outlined in the student code of conduct, charter administrators may expel the student only after due process has been afforded the student, and the charter holder board has determined that expulsion is the appropriate consequence.  The charter holder shall notify the school district in which the student resides within three (3) business days of any action expelling or withdrawing a student from the charter school. 
We hope this summary is helpful to you in preparing for the 2010-2011 school year. If you have questions about the statutory provisions summarized in this letter, you are welcome to call the Office of Legal Services at (512) 463-9720.
David A. Anderson
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