Neighborhood preference in D.C. charter schools would be allowed under bill

New D.C. public charter schools would be allowed to give admissions preference to neighborhood children under a bill introduced Tuesday by D.C. Council Member David Grosso (I-At Large).

Charter schools currently enroll kids from across the city, holding lotteries if there is more demand than space. That approach gives students equal access to admission — but it can also shut them out of the school down the street.

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Under Grosso’s bill, newly established charter schools would be able to give admissions priority to students living in the same “neighborhood cluster” as the school is located. The Office of Planning defines 39 such neighborhood clusters.

Charter schools’ admission and enrollment procedures have drawn more scrutiny as their share of the public school population has risen. Charters now enroll 43 percent of the city’s students.

Some charter school leaders and advocates oppose neighborhood preference, citing concern that it would limit poor children’s chances to go to good schools located in affluent areas. Other school leaders support a preference, saying it would give them a way to forge stronger ties to the communities in which they work.

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