Parents have eight days to submit applications if they wish to send their children to a school outside of their residential district or assigned school.
Delaware is one of the 13 states in the country that allows families to apply for their children to attend any public school – district or charter – rather than sending them to the neighborhood school associated with their addresses.
There’s no limit to the amount of applications a family can fill out, and there’s about 25,000 school-choice applications submitted each year.
To apply to a district or charter school, visit the state’s school choice portal here and follow these steps:
- Register a student in the school of residence, which is where a student attends based on their home address, using the school locator map.
- Visit school websites and attend school-choice meetings to learn more about available programs, upcoming informational meetings and application requirements.
- Complete the standard application form here. This link will also show families if a school has spots available or if its near capacity, at capacity, has a lottery or has a waitlist.
- Choice selection: After the choice window closes families will be notified of their application status by Feb. 29.
It is important to remember that families must register their student first in the residential-based school, even if they have no intent to send them there.
Some parents have said this added step has been an annoyance and waste of time.
Parents have also said this step has sometimes led to school staff inappropriately questioning them as to why they are trying to send their child to a school outside of their assigned residential one.
With the implementation of the online registration process, parents can complete the registration application and submit required application documents with minimal interaction with the district of residence.
While the initial registration process requires documentation, the electronic submission will be part of the student’s electronic cumulative file and will be transferred to any attended school as part of the student’s file for alleviation of any future requests from the parent.
Schools and districts have had school choice nights over the past couple months, showcasing their specific programs and offerings as well as giving parents the opportunity to meet staff and ask questions.
However, it’s not too late to find that information, as school websites typically have a section on school choice that parents can review before determining if it’s a right fit to apply.
For example, a family should probably stay away from applying to Delaware Military Academy if they don’t feel like wearing a uniform regularly.
The school or district website will also include any nuances to the process, like the fact that some schools in a district might have a normal feeding pattern while others are a full-choice building.
Note that districts and schools have unique preferences for their applicants, and many also have waitlists or random lotteries if there’s more applicants than seats available.
While the order of preferences might differ, most schools and districts are inclined to accept students whose siblings are already attending, students applying to a specific program and some prefer students within a five-mile radius of the school.
Red Clay Consolidated School District’s order of preference, for example, is:
- Returning students
- Students applying for a program who live within the school’s attendance zone
- In-district siblings of returning in-district students
- In-district students
- Out-of-district siblings of returning out-of-district students
- Out-of-district students
Families choicing their children into a school can expect to have an admission decision by the end of February, and will have until March 15 to decide where their child will attend the 2024-2025 school year.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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