Clarification About Out of Town Students.



Andrea Oliver, Staff Writer

On March 5, a letter was sent out to Hawthorne families regarding students from outside of town attending school here. This letter was sent out by Superintendent of Schools Richard Spirito to clarify some details concerning this new policy.

Mr. Spirito, the Board of Education, and administration decided to research and implement this policy as a result of an overall enrollment decline at the high school, as well as several parents from neighboring towns asking if they could enroll their children. Already, one currently attending sophomore at Hawthorne High School is from North Haledon.

The letter stated, “The idea of school districts accepting tuition paying students is not uncommon. In fact, a number of districts throughout the state of New Jersey allow for students to pay tuition and attend their high schools.  Previously, an option for school districts was to enroll in the New Jersey Inter-district Public School Choice program sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education.  There are 124 school districts participating in this program throughout the state, but no new applications are being accepted.  A second option for school districts is to engage in a send-receive relationship whereby a district educates students from another community on a tuition basis. A third option is for districts to simply adopt their own policies and allow for this practice.”

Mr. Spirito stated that the application had  “very strict requirements” to be accepted. Many documents would be required from the students trying to transfer into our district. This includes two years of academic records, attendance records, standardized test scores, and  discipline records. A “mandatory interview with administration” would also be part of the process and students would be required to submit letters of recommendation from two staff members at their original schools. “All of these required documents will be reviewed prior to acceptance and payment of tuition,” Spirito said.  “Finally, if after this review the student were to be admitted, they would be required to maintain these high standards for the length of their stay at our High School.”

All students who come to our school from out of town would obviously be required to pay tuition.  Mr Spirito addressed this in the letter saying, “It was also felt that this new policy would generate some revenue for the district, help offset expenses and support future budgets.”

It is required by the recently instated policy that the Superintendent determine that adding another student “would not be detrimental to the school district.” As well as that the costs of having the student attend would not go, “beyond the private tuition charged.”

The application process will be, “first come, first serve” and it would need to be renewed every year. It was however further clarified that “private tuition pupils” who were already attending Hawthorne schools would be favored over new out of town applicants.