Parents on Thursday night peppered the chairman of a charter school that has ties to the University of Maryland, after they recently learned of an effort to revamp the lottery system for admissions and to reclassify the school.
Some parents at the College Park Academy PTO meeting said they were shocked to learn of a the request by state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who serves as the school’s chairman, that children of College Park residents employed by the university be given special consideration when they apply to the school.
As a charter, enrollment is open to the public school. Parents enter a lottery system for admission.
Prince George’s County schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell told Rosapepe in a letter that reserving seats for a segment of students is not allowable under Maryland charter rules.
Rosapepe said he is exploring changing the school into a “contract school” after the charter’s agreement with the school system ends.
“What is a contract school?,” a parent asked.
“What is the time frame?,” asked another.
Rosapepe said the board, city and university want the children of College Park residents to be able to use the school. The city and U-Md. want to make living in College Park attractive to university employees, he said.
In Maxwell’s letter, in which he rejects Rosapepe’s request, Maxwell said Rosapepe wanted to reserve 50 percent of the school’s seats for children of U-Md. employees who live in the city.
Rosapepe told the group of parents that the percentage was not set in stone and that the children who already attend the school would not be affected, implying that a change in percentage would apply to new students at the school.
Because Maxwell denied the request, Rosapepe told the parents that he would like to make the school a contract school, which would not have to adhere to the state charter school rules regarding admissions.
Prince George’s County does not have any contract schools.
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