Frequently Asked Questions



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Frequently Asked Questions

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Choice/Transfer & Transportation Requirements

For Title I Schools Identified as Focus or Priority Schools



Revised 8/15/12 – New and edited FAQs are shaded in green

Revised 9/7/12 – New and edited FAQs are shaded in blue
Focus Schools FAQs can be found in the Support and Policy Documentation section of the Focus Schools web page.
Table of Contents (CTRL + Click to jump to category)

Choice/Transfer

Notification

Transportation

Options

Agreements

Students and Choice

Set-aside Funds for Title I Schools

Other
Choice/Transfer

1. What are “Choice/Transfer” Requirements for Priority and Focus Schools?

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), and the Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) recently approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver, requires Title I schools that are identified as Priority and/or Focus schools, to disseminate the following specific information to the school community:



  • Choice/Transfer Letter of Notification – A letter and supporting materials sent to all parents no later than 14 days before the first day of school explaining their right to transfer their child to another school that has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the 2011-2012 school year, and is not identified as either a Priority or Focus school. The MDE has determined that for the 2012-2013 school year this must occur no later than August 21, 2012. Parents must be provided at least 14 days to respond.

The status of elementary and middle schools, alternative schools and high schools that are identified as Priority or Focus schools is based on the academic achievement, improvement and achievement gap status of the schools as determined by the MDE. Schools that are identified as Priority or Focus schools must engage in the requirements associated with this identification, including the creation of the parental notification document described above. If a district or PSA does not have an in-district transfer option it must document the efforts to enter into a cooperative agreement with other area districts within the boundaries of the Intermediate School District or Regional Educational Service Agency (ISD), to accept students for transfer to another school that has made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in the 2011-2012 school year, and is not identified as either a Priority or Focus school. Districts must ensure that cooperative agreements comply with the requirements of Section 6 of the State School Aid Act of 1979 (MCL 388.1606) and articulate responsibility for all special education and transportation costs. Non-resident students of the Priority or Focus school transferring to another school under the Choice/Transfer option may require the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district. If the Focus or Priority school made AYP in the most recent school year, enrollment in the Choice/Transfer option school requires the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district. If good faith efforts to develop cooperative agreements result in no options, the district must submit evidence of the efforts to the MDE, upon request, but Michigan will no longer require a “No Options” letter to be sent to parents as had been done in past years.

All template letters will need to be revised by the district to reflect current and accurate information for the building and the district before the letters are sent to parents. Letters must include specific details regarding the parents’ right to transfer their student to another public school, including:



  • Notice that transportation will be provided subject to certain cost limitations

  • A list of available schools that have made AYP in the 2011-2012 school year, and are not identified as Priority or Focus schools, that have agreed to accept students from the Priority or Focus School (attach copy of list)

  • Other information to help parents decide which school(s) would be best for their student(s)

The above information must be posted on the district website at the same time that the letter is to be received by parents and must include a suitable application form for parents to use to make the request to transfer their student.

2. With regard to the Choice/Transfer option requirements for Priority and Focus schools, does it make a difference whether the school’s Title I participating status is Statewide or Targeted Assistance?

No, targeted assistance vs. school wide status does not matter in this instance. Schools that are identified as Title I Priority and Focus must both implement the Choice/Transfer and transportation option and must send notification to parents of all students enrolled in the school in the previous school year.



3. What happens to Choice/Transfer and transportation requirements if next year our Focus school is no longer identified as a Focus school?

A Focus School stays in a Focus School cohort for four years – first year of identification and the three years beyond.



  • Title I set-asides will continue at both the district and the building levels during those three years to “ensure that the school’s improvement is sustained.”

  • At the district level, there are two set-asides that are REQUIREMENTS for schools that continue to be identified as Focus school and those two do not have to be implemented if your school is not re-identified on future lists. Those two are Choice/Transfer and contracting with a District Improvement Facilitator.

Consistent with the ESEA requirements, a district or PSA shall permit a child who transferred to another school under this requirement to remain in that school until the child has completed the highest grade in that school. However, the obligation of the district or PSA to provide, or to provide for, transportation for the child ends at the end of a school year if the MDE determines that the school from which the child transferred is no longer identified as a Focus school.

4. Since the district set-aside increases each year for Focus Schools, is Choice/Transfer required each of the four years the schools are in Focus School identification?

Yes, each year that a school is identified as a Focus school it must offer Choice/Transfer and continue to fund the transportation for students whose parents have elected a Choice option school in past years.

5. What happens if a building that was identified as a Title I Priority or Focus school changes status and is no longer a Title I participating building in the district?

If a school identified as a Priority or Focus school is no longer a participating Title I building, then the district is no longer required to provide transportation costs for students that have elected to transfer to the Choice/Transfer option building(s). If the building is no longer Title I, the requirements no longer apply. Districts and PSAs electing to not receive Title I funds after parents have elected Choice/Transfer option schools are cautioned to be sensitive to the impact of this decision upon students and families that have already elected the Choice/Transfer option and/or where students may already be attending Choice/Transfer option schools within or outside of the district. District should time these decisions to no longer receive Title I funds and provide parents with reasonable notice concerning the change in Title I status and the impact that this will have upon parents and their students.



6. What happens if a building that was identified as a Priority or Focus school that was NOT a Title I participating school changes status and becomes a Title I participating school?

If the Priority or Focus school elects to become a Title I participating building, then it must meet all of the requirements for that identification. The Choice/Transfer notification to parents must be sent as soon as possible. Parents must be provided at least 14 days to respond and elect for their child to participate in Choice/Transfer and transportation.



7. What happens if the student’s original neighborhood school building, which had been identified as a Priority or Focus school, is closed by the district? Must the district continue to provide transportation to the Choice/Transfer option building for a student that elected to transfer before the original building was closed?

No, the district may require the student to attend the neighborhood school building that other students were transferred to upon closure. However, if the new neighborhood school for that student is also identified as a Priority or Focus school, then the student that had previously transferred must be provided the opportunity to remain at the Choice/Transfer option school attended in the past, or provided with an opportunity to elect another Choice/Transfer option building along with the other students in the Priority or Focus building. Transportation for the student to attend the Choice/Transfer option school is required.



8. How does the district address students that are enrolled in the Focus School in our district that are students under the State Schools of Choice law, Section 105 (MCL 388.105)? Is the district obligated to notify parents and provide the Schools of Choice students with the option to participate in Choice/Transfer under the ESEA Waiver? Must our district provide transportation for those students attending under State Schools of Choice who elect a Choice/Transfer option?

A parent of a student enrolled in a school under the Michigan Schools of Choice program, Section 105 and Section 105c (MCL 388.105 and MCL 388.105c), which is identified as a Priority or Focus school, is required to be notified regarding the school’s identification as a Priority or Focus school and the parents of the student may elect to participate in the Choice/Transfer option under the approved ESEA Flexibility Waiver. The MDE has determined that the earlier advice not to include students enrolled under the State Schools of Choice law was incorrect and has revised its position. However, Choice/Transfer of a non-resident student is complicated by the requirements of Section 6 of the State School Aid Act of 1979 (MCL 388.1606), and may require the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district. If the Focus or Priority school made AYP in the most recent school year, enrollment in the Choice/Transfer option school requires the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district.



9. What about the Michigan Schools of Choice program, Section 105 and Section 105c (MCL 388.105 and MCL 388.105c) - don't schools have to take students if there are open seats?

If all of their available places are filled then no, schools don't have to accept students. This is not part of the Choice/Transfer requirement under the ESEA Flexibility Waiver. Under the State Schools of Choice law, (MCL 388.105 and MCL 388.105c) districts may limit the number of students in identified grade ranges and buildings that they will accept. Once at capacity, the district is not required to accept additional students.



10. Charter schools are purely school of choice, so would any of our students be eligible for choice and transportation?

Yes, PSAs (charter schools) that are identified as Priority or Focus schools are responsible for finding Choice options and for notifying parents just as any other school identified. Set-aside funds must be used to provide transportation for parents that elect a Choice option school and for implementing other required strategies and interventions. However, Choice/Transfer of a non-resident student is complicated by the requirements of Section 6 of the State School Aid Act of 1979 (MCL 388.1606), and may require the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district. If the Priority or Focus school that must offer Choice/Transfer did not make AYP in the past school year, enrollment in a non-resident district under the Choice/Transfer option is permissible under MCL 388.1606(6)(o). If the Focus or Priority school made AYP in the most recent school year, enrollment in the Choice/Transfer option school requires the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district.



11. If the school is not on the Focus school 2012 list are they considered "Good Getting Great" to reduce the cohort to 3 years? Do they still need to do the 2nd year 15% set aside and contract the facilitator?

Becoming “Good Getting Great” requires meeting two specific criteria in addition to being on the 2012 list: The school’s overall achievement must be in the top quartile and its bottom 30% must be making “safe Harbor” progress. If a 2012 Focus School receives “Good Getting Great” status for the 2013/14 school year, they no longer have to implement the Title I set-asides.

Notification


12. What are the web posting requirements regarding notice to parents about the Choice/Transfer option when districts have Priority and/or Focus schools?

Districts with Priority and Focus schools must post information about the Choice/Transfer option on the district and/or school websites. Information which must be posted 14 days before the start of school includes:



  • A list of available schools that have made AYP in the 2011-2012 school year, which are not identified as Priority or Focus schools, that have agreed to accept students from the Priority or Focus School (attach copy of list)

  • Procedures and timelines for parents to apply for the Choice/Transfer options, and transportation

  • Copy of the Choice/Transfer Parent Request Form

If the district parent notification letter and its attachments include all of the required information, then posting the parent letter and the attachments should satisfy the requirements.

13. Does the letter to parents have to follow the MDE template language or can we tailor it to meet our needs?

The district may add language describing what the district/school is doing to improve academic achievement and describe local context but the template is intended to model the simplest way to meet the requirements as completely as possible.

14. Will the sample Transportation/Choice Letter be posted on the Focus Schools website?

You will find it here: www.mi.gov/focusschools under Support and Policy Documentation.

15. The letter that I received from my superintendent states 2 choices for parents: remain at their current school or transfer to another school. Can I send this letter out with the form indicating that parents only need to complete and return the form if they desire to change schools?

Yes. A template Parent Request form was also provided to districts for their use in developing a form that will provide the information needed to meet the requirements to the MDE’s satisfaction.  “Opt in” versions are acceptable.

16. Does web posting satisfy the requirement to get the word out?

No, not by itself. While posting the Choice Transfer option on the district and/or school websites is required you must still send notification by mail and/or email. You may also use email as long as you document this mailing thoroughly and that those parents without email addresses are sent the letters in regular mail.

17. Can you send the letter out via email messenger or does it have to go out via us mail?

You can use email in addition to postal service but you must document to show that the emails were delivered and that those parents without email addresses are sent the letters in regular mail.

18. If we must mail the letter via USPS, can we utilize Title funding to pay for it?

No, there is no provision in the waiver for the use of the set-aside funds for administrative costs.

19. What is the Choice/Transfer obligation for a school that already started school, with students in session last week?

You must still send the notification with a 14 day deadline because it is required, but next year you will have more time to plan ahead and get in sync with your school year.

20. Do choice transportation letters have to be sent to new incoming students (i.e. incoming kindergarten)?

Yes. Where students are reasonably expected to attend a school in the normal course of events, they should be given the Choice/Transfer option.

21. Does the letter for choice get sent only to bottom 30%?

No, it must be sent to all students.

22. One of our district schools was identified as a Focus School and no longer exists as the same school, there are only 38% of the students left in this school from last year. In other words, 383 students are moving into this building from another closed building in the district. Do we only have to send Choice letters to the 190 students left from last year or all 498 students?

The letter should be sent to all of the students in the building, those that are continuing students and those that are expected to be in the building this year, e.g. the 383 students moving because of the district decision to close the other district building. Those that would not be sent letters may be those students new to the building because the family has moved into the geographical boundaries of the school (or district) recently and therefore was not enrolled in the building for the 2011-12 school year. The district should rely upon written policy and procedures regarding enrollment to determine whether the building is obligated to send letters to parent of new students due to recent relocation to the district and/or the neighborhood school.

23. Does the 14 days start when we send the letter?

Parents must have a full 14 days to consider their options so the 14 days should start with the receipt of the letter allowing a few days for delivery time.

24. If someone shows up on day 18 do we have to offer Choice?

That depends on the specifics of the written procedures that the district has provided and articulated to parents. If the parent's request is later than the deadline for applications specified in your notification letter and application you don't have to provide Choice/Transfer for them.

Transportation



25. How will the district pay for the transportation required when parents request transfer of their students to another school that is not identified as Priority or Focus?

Priority Schools: Districts with Title I Priority schools will be required to set-aside 20% of the LEA Title I, Part A, allocation for Choice/Transfer and transportation, and other required activities and interventions.

Focus Schools: The percentage of the LEA Title I allocation that is required to be setaside to serve Focus schools will increase incrementally as the years of identification increase:

  • First year of identification – 10%

  • Second year of identification 15%

  • Third and Fourth year of identification – 20%

After Choice/Transfer transportation costs have been determined, remaining funds must be allocated to strategies and interventions from available options to improve achievement. Actual amounts to be negotiated with the MDE, Office of Field Services Consultant.

26. Regarding the 20% of Title I funds the district must set-aside for Priority schools. Is there a break down for transportation and the other requirements at this time?

Deduct the actual anticipated cost of transportation from the required 20% district set-aside and the balance is to be used for the other requirements of Priority Schools.

27. If there are no options within the district for non-Focus schools, are we obligated to transport outside the district?

Yes. You are responsible for finding choice options either within your district, or with other districts and buildings within the geographical boundaries of the ISD in which the school is located and for arranging transportation to those options.

28. What if there are not enough set-aside funds to pay the transportation costs for all students whose parents have requested transfer?

If the district receives more applications to transfer than can be accommodated by available set-aside funds, then priority must be given to the lowest achieving students from low-income families. The district is required to continue transportation for students whose parents had in past years chosen to transfer students under the Choice/Transfer option. Final decisions about parent transfer requests should be made after all applications have been received from parents, costs to continue transportation for students already attending a transfer school are considered, and the district has determined an equitable and consistent manner for prioritizing students from low-income families according to student achievement levels.



29. What does “subject to certain cost limitations” mean?

The district should rely upon its transportation policy and procedures as a starting point with regard to transportation of students under the Choice/Transfer option. For instance, if a district had a policy that it would not provide transportation to a school if the building was less than one mile from the parent’s home, then it’s possible that a Transfer option school selected by a parent may be less than the one mile limit. Transportation would not be required to be provided by the district in this case. The district is required to continue transportation for students whose parents had in past years chosen to transfer students under the Choice/Transfer option so long as the school is identified as a Focus or Priority school. There may be other “cost limitations” to consider and districts are encouraged to contact the MDE, Office of Education Improvement and Innovation (517-373-4266) to discuss these considerations.



30. What if the Priority or Focus school is a Public School Academy (PSA), which does not have other buildings that have made AYP in the past school year and are not identified as Priority or Focus? Since PSAs are not otherwise required to offer transportation to students are they exempt from these requirements?

A PSA that does not have other buildings with the same grade levels to offer its students must seek Choice/Transfer options through cooperative agreements with other districts or PSAs within the boundaries of the ISD in which the district is located. A PSA is not excluded from the requirements. Transportation must be provided by a PSA for students whose parents elect to exercise the Choice/Transfer option. If a LEA or PSA district does not have a transfer option within its own district it must document the efforts to enter into a cooperative agreement with other area LEA or PSA districts to accept students for transfer to another school that has made AYP in the 2011-2012 school year and which is not identified as either a Priority or Focus school. If good faith efforts to develop cooperative agreements result in no options, the district must submit evidence of the efforts to the MDE, upon request. The MDE will provide additional information at a later date about Certification of Compliance that must be completed by the districts in the MEGS+ system.



31. What can my district expect in terms of the numbers of students requiring transportation under the Choice/Transfer option? Is there any data?

Data collected from districts by the MDE regarding utilization of the Choice/Transfer option in Michigan is available for districts that have been required to offer Choice/Transfer in the past. Statewide, districts required to offer the Choice/Transfer option for eligible students in buildings Identified for Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring have resulted in relatively few students that have transferred under the option. During the 2010‐2011 school year (the last year for which data is available), 73,612 students were eligible for the Choice Transfer Option and 355 students transferred, less than one‐half of one percent of eligible students. For school years 2007‐2008 through 2010‐2011, 318,430 students were eligible for transfer and a total of 1,251 students transferred, less than four‐tenths of one percent of eligible students over the four year period. These are aggregate numbers and actual numbers on a per district basis vary significantly. It is a small number of students that transfer under the requirement.



32. Our district does not provide transportation to its students. The district owns no busses and does not contract for transportation services for any students. Must the districts still provide transportation for students enrolled at the schools identified as Focus and Priority?

Yes, students whose parents elect transfer to an option school must be provided transportation to the Choice option school that the district has offered and the parent(s) has elected. The district may contract with a transportation service or another district to provide the required transportation.



33. May our district reimburse the parents for the cost of transporting their child to the Choice option school that they have selected from those offered by the district?

No. The use of reimbursement of parents for the cost of transportation is generally a barrier to parents in their election of the Choice option and is seen as placing an unfair burden upon parents which will dissuade them from requesting Choice/Transfer to another school for their child.



34. We're basically a walk-in district. Can we use gas cards or taxi/dial a ride to meet transportation requirements?

No, gas cards or taxi/dial-a-ride may effectively be a barrier to parents in their election of the Choice option. The district must offer transportation if families choose to exercise their option.

35. In transporting students to another school, can we require parents to drive to central bus pick up/drop off location or do our normal bussing guidelines take precedence?

Your normal bussing guidelines take precedence.

36. If we do not provide transportation to our general education students, must we set up a transportation system strictly for the choice students? If so, does that not obligate us to institute transportation for all of the rest of the students?

You must provide transportation for those students who elect Choice but this does not obligate your district to provide transportation for the rest of your student population.

37. Our district has negotiated an agreement with another district to provide a Choice option school for students enrolled in one of the buildings that is identified as a Priority school. Most school days, our district transportation system, employing drivers and aides that are members of a bargaining unit, transports students to attend the out of district school. However, the Choice option school is in a district that has a different school calendar than our district. There are some days each year that the Choice option school is open during which our district schools are closed. Our unionized transportation staff cannot transport students to the Choice option school on days when our district is closed. Is it okay to require that parents must arrange their own transportation to the Choice option school on those several days each year that our district is not in operation?

No. The district must arrange to provide consistent transportation for those students whose parents have elected to transfer to the Choice option school. On those days when the district is not in operation and its employees cannot provide transportation the district must provide an alternative means of transporting those students.



38. Our transportation policy says we will not transport students who live within 1 mile of the building. If the choice school they want to transfer to is within 1 mile of their residence, do we still have to provide transportation?

No, if your district transportation policy states that you don't transport students that live within 1 mile of the school you may follow your district policy for transferred students.

39. “Cost limitations may be based upon the transportation policies of the district .e.g. minimum mileage limits for students requiring district transportation. The fact that a district does not as a matter of policy provide transportation does not provide the district an exception to providing transportation under Choice/Transfer.” (from the webinar PowerPoint) We are a small district without a lot of options around us, unless we drive VERY far for these students. What is expected of us?

The district must find an alternate school so that parents may choose it if they wish and make arrangements for transportation for those students whose parents elect choice. As parents consider their options there may be few, if any, who would choose the option school under these conditions but they should still have a choice if at all possible. If you are unable to work out an agreement with a neighboring district within your ISD you must document your efforts.



40. Is a district and school obligated to provide transportation for the student's term in the focus building? i.e. K-1 building obligation to transport after 1st grade?

The school's obligation to provide Choice and transportation for a student ends when the student completes the highest grade level that the Choice option school offers, or if the Focus school is no longer identified.



41. What are the transportation requirements for students attending a Choice/Transfer school that is a newly identified Priority or Focus school?

If newly identified as a Priority or Focus school, the Choice option school must offer Choice/Transfer to students and provide transportation as required of Priority and Focus schools. If the parent elects to transfer to another Choice/Transfer option school, then the student's original school is no longer obligated to provide transportation. That burden falls to the new Priority or Focus school that accepted the Choice/Transfer student. However, Choice/Transfer of a non-resident student is complicated by the requirements of Section 6 of the State School Aid Act of 1979 (MCL 388.1606), and may require the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district. If the Priority or Focus school that must offer Choice/Transfer did not make AYP in the past school year, enrollment in a non-resident district under the Choice/Transfer option is permissible under MCL 388.1606(6)(o). If the Focus or Priority school made AYP in the most recent school year, enrollment in the Choice/Transfer option school requires the approval of the resident district in order to be counted in membership by the receiving district.



42. If the school is no longer a Priority school must the district and school continue to provide transportation to the Choice/Transfer option school elected even if they no longer have set-asides?

No. Consistent with the ESEA requirements, a district or PSA shall permit a child who transferred to another school under this requirement to remain in that school until the child has completed the highest grade in that school. However, the obligation of the district or PSA to provide, or to provide for, transportation for the child ends at the end of a school year if the MDE determines that the school from which the child transferred is no longer identified as a Priority school.



43. If a State School of Choice non-resident student is in our district from a neighboring district, must we provide transportation if that student chooses to return to his/her resident district that is not a Focus School?

This depends upon whether the district with the Focus (or Priority) school has secured a cooperative agreement with that student’s resident district. If the parent(s) simply choose to return the student to the neighborhood school without electing that school as the Choice/Transfer option school, then transportation would not be required to be provided by the Focus school’s district. If there is an agreement between the district that provides for that neighborhood school as a Choice/Transfer option and the parents elect that school for Choice/Transfer, then the terms of the agreement regarding transportation would apply. This would also apply to a non-resident student in a PSA.
Options

44. What does “good faith effort” mean in terms of a district’s attempt to enter into a cooperative agreement between the school identified as a Priority or Focus school and a non-Priority or Focus school for the purposes of supporting a Choice/Transfer option?

A district (or PSA) with a newly identified Priority or Focus school must make an attempt to secure an agreement with at least one school that has made AYP in the 2011-2012 school year and which is not a Priority or Focus school located within the geographic boundaries of the ISD in which the school is located. When seeking such an agreement, the district with the newly identified Priority or Focus school must consider providing the Choice/Transfer option to every single grade level (K – 12) currently served by that school. This effort must be documented.



45. Being located in the corner of our ISD, we are limited a bit. We have identified one Choice/Transfer option school in a nearby district and we are working on an agreement. Will we be REQUIRED to have more than one alternate for choice? Even though the alternate school is lower on the Top to Bottom List than our Focus Schools are?

No. Ideally there would be several choices available but you needn't have more than one. There may be cases where a school is unable to find or arrange for Choice/Transfer option schools. Be sure to document your efforts to find Choice/Transfer option schools to show that they are reasonable and defensible.



46. Should we prioritize the students receiving the option to transfer based upon the availability of slots in the partner district or based upon the funds available in our set-aside?

You should prioritize based on whichever of the two is the limiting factor.

47. Can the district decide which school to offer to the parents?

Yes

48. If my Priority elementary has the ability to send students to an elementary within the district that made AYP and is not identified as Priority or Focus, do I still have to contact other districts for choice?

No.

49. If we contact one eligible school outside of our district and they agree to be an option school for us does that satisfy the requirement of choice and transfer?

Yes.

50. We are required to provide a list of Choice/Transfer option schools parents may choose for transfer but are other schools required to accept our transfer students?

No, other schools are not obligated to accept your transfer students.



51. The school nearest us is not ranked at all as it only has two years of data. It was not listed as an AYP school/nor non-AYP school. (It is approximately 20 miles one way from our school) Do we still use it as a receiving school?

Yes, you may as long as it isn't identified as a Priority or Focus school and that district is willing to enter into a written cooperative agreement to provide the transfer.



52. Do I have to ask surrounding districts to take our students if I have a school within the district that is not identified?

No. If you have an option within the district that will meet the requirements, you do not have to go outside of the district.

53. A brand new Charter School in our district opened.  They have never been in operation thus far so obviously did not make AYP. Could we offer that new Charter School as an option for parents?

If an agreement with the charter school can be implemented in writing, there is nothing that would preclude this building from being offered as a Choice/Transfer option; however, many charter schools are already at capacity when they open in the fall as they have limits on enrollment and state law requires open enrollment.  An agreement with the charter would not give your students priority for enrollment, as they must use a random selection process if applicants exceed slots available.  If they are willing to accept students but have a waiting list, additional Choice/Transfer options should be sought so that there will be an actual option.

54. How many choice schools does a Focus School have to identify for transfer?

One or more unless you are unable to locate and make agreements with districts to provide suitable Choice/Transfer option schools. Be sure to document your efforts to find options.



55. If a Focus School has a special education program that is not offered elsewhere in the district or county do we have to offer the Choice/Transfer option to those students?

Yes, but you may want to explain in your notification letter that a similar special education program is not offered at the option schools.

56. If middle school has grade 6, can it offer choice to an elementary school that has grade 6?

Yes, but your obligation for Choice/Transfer extends to the highest grade your school offers. If your school is a 6-8 grade school you will still need an option for grades 7 and 8 for students who elect Choice.

Agreements



57. Will the MDE provide a sample of a written cooperative agreement between the LEA and the choice school outside of the district?

MDE does not have sample agreements available and encourages you to contact your professional association for sample contracts and your district lawyer when drawing up an agreement. Issues such as moving the foundation grant for each student transfer and arrangements for transportation will need to be addressed in your agreement and legal review is recommended.

58. Are transportation fees to support a Choice/Transfer option negotiated annually or may they be negotiated over the length of the student’s prospective enrollment at the new school?

Transportation fees should be contractually negotiated on an annual basis and should be based on the actual costs to transport the student to and from new school.


Students and Choice

59. Which students in Priority and Focus schools are eligible to apply for Transfer to another school that is not identified as a Priority or Focus school?

In general, all students enrolled in the building must be offered the opportunity to transfer.

60. Does the Choice/Transfer option apply to students from pre-school programs, students new to the schools catchment area, or students that would normally attend the priority or focus school but haven’t yet due to grades or ages served at that school?

Generally, the Choice/Transfer option applies to students that were enrolled in a K-12 program in the academic year immediately preceding the school’s identification as a Priority or Focus school. However, where students are reasonably expected to attend a school in the normal course of events, they should be given the choice/transportation option as well. This includes students living in the district that are entering kindergarten, students transitioning from elementary to middle schools, and from middle to high school. Districts should clearly identify in their written policy and procedures how this will be implemented. The MDE recommends that districts should make attempts to be inclusive in the implementation of these requirements.



61. How long must a district or PSA allow a student to attend a Choice/Transfer option school?

Consistent with the ESEA requirements, a district or PSA shall permit a child who transferred to another school under this requirement to remain in that school until the child has completed the highest grade in that school. However, the obligation of the district or PSA to provide, or to provide for, transportation for the child ends at the end of a school year if the MDE determines that the school from which the child transferred is no longer identified as a Focus school.



62. What happens if the student’s original school building is no longer identified as a Priority or Focus school? May the district require that a student that transferred under Choice/Transfer return to their original building and cease transportation services if they do not?

Consistent with the ESEA requirements, a district or PSA shall permit a child who transferred to another school under this requirement to remain in that school until the child has completed the highest grade in that school. However, the obligation of the district or PSA to provide, or to provide for, transportation for the child ends at the end of a school year if the MDE determines that the school from which the child transferred is no longer identified as a Focus or Priority school.



63. If a student is attending a Choice/Transfer option school and the Choice option building is subsequently identified as a Priority or Focus school, must the student leave that school or may the student continue to attend the option school?

A district must permit a student who transferred under the Choice/Transfer option to remain in that school, until the student completes the highest grade in that school. The district is no longer required to provide transportation to a Choice/Transfer option school if it has been identified as a Priority or Focus school.



64. If a student attends a Choice/Transfer option school that is subsequently identified as a Priority or Focus school, is the district operating the Choice option building now responsible for providing another Choice/Transfer option for the student, or is the student’s original district or PSA responsible for offering the parent and their student another Choice/Transfer option and provision of transportation?

The student’s original district or PSA is responsible only for provision of a school as a Choice/Transfer option that has made AYP in the 2011-2012 school year and that is not identified as a Priority or Focus school. If the first school chosen as a Choice/Transfer option subsequently becomes a Priority or Focus school, the newly designated Priority or Focus school must provide a new Choice/Transfer option for all students. That burden falls to the new Priority or Focus school that accepted the Choice/Transfer students.



65. If a student attends a Choice/Transfer option school and subsequently moves out of the geographical boundaries of the building that was identified as a Priority or Focus school, may the student continue to attend the option school?

A district must permit a student who transferred under the Choice/Transfer option to remain in that school, and provide transportation, until the student completes the highest grade in that school. However, state law and enrollment policies regarding district and ISD geographic boundaries remain in effect and may not be usurped by the Choice/Transfer option.



66. If a student attends a Choice/Transfer option school and the parents subsequently move out of the geographical boundaries of the original district may the student continue to attend the option school?

No, if the original school (identified as a Priority or Focus school) is part of a traditional public school district, the new resident district is now responsible for provision of the student’s education and compliance with requirements under the ESEA Flexibility Waiver. However, this would NOT apply if the original school/district is a PSA, as a PSA does not have geographical boundaries. The PSA would remain responsible for provision of transportation. NOTE: For the purposes of the Choice/Transfer option, the geographic boundaries of the ISD will be applied to PSAs.



67. Can families make a request after the year starts? Or can a new student who starts later in the year do Choice/Transfer?

This would be determined by the procedures and deadlines in the letters sent to parents. The district and school is required to send the notice and letter to parents 14 days before the beginning of the school year. That letter and Choice/Transfer request forms must articulate the deadlines and procedures of the district. Parents must be provided a minimum of 14 days to respond regarding the election to participate in Choice/Transfer. If the stated deadline for submission of the request has past, the district should not honor the request.

68. If a parent requests transfer and the student begins to attend the new school can the parent change their mind at any point through the school year and return to the Focus School they left?

Yes, provided they continue to live in the district and the district’s geographical boundaries of the Focus school that they left. If the Focus school that they left was a PSA, the student’s ability to return to the PSA school will depend upon the enrollment capacity and requirements of the PSA.

69. For a PSA, if a family chooses to transfer, and we accept another student into our school from our waiting list, are we required to offer choice/transfer to these new students?

No.

70. If a student enrolls in a Priority School in the middle of the year, does that student have the choice option?

No.

71. If you run out of space after meeting all Choice/Transfer requests and still have money remaining in the set-aside, what is the obligation for transferring students?

When you run out of spaces to place students requesting transfer your obligation for transfer is complete and the remaining students requesting transfer will not be transferred.  Students should be prioritized for transfer, after all transfer requests have been received, by giving priority to the lowest achieving students from among low income families.  Any remaining set-aside funds not needed for transportation must be used for the other strategies and interventions required of Priority and Focus Schools.
Set-aside Funds for Title I Schools
72. If we are unable to use the district set-aside of 10% for transportation (the majority of the Focus students are Special Education) could those funds be used to assist these Focus students? We are concerned about supplanting (?).

The district may redirect the unused transportation funds to professional development or technical assistance for general education teachers in understanding the needs of students with IEPs. What is critical is that the Title I funds do not replace any IEP services paid for by IDEA funds and that anything you do is above and beyond what those students are already getting.
Other
73. Has MHSAA eligibility been determined for students that elect to take the Choice/Transfer option?

These matters are governed by the MI High School Athletic Association (http://www.mhsaa.com/). Please contact the association.

74. Our Priority (or Focus) school serves students with special education needs.  I understand that the district must offer them the Choice/Transfer option to attend another school that is not identified as a Priority or Focus school, and that has made AYP.  If we must procure another Choice/Transfer option building outside of the district, who pays for the special education services identified in the IEP?

The responsibility for payment of special education services or programs remains that of the district of the Priority (or Focus) school. A cooperative agreement between the district of the Priority school and the operating district for the Choice/Transfer option school must be specific to the individual student and detail the payment responsibility for the educational costs, including special education services and programs, specify which district entity will conduct the IEP meetings, and the arrangements for any additional special education transportation costs.

75. Is this Priority/Focus School Title I Choice/Transfer Power Point webinar presentation available for download?

http://www.mi.gov/documents/mde/Priority___Focus_School_Choice_Under_ESEA_Waiver_394666_7.ppt



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