Written by: Tomlyn Farley, Parent Support Worker

The My School DC Common Lottery is designed to efficiently maximize placements for students who wish to attend out-of-boundary DC public schools and DC public charter schools. This is not a lottery for funding and enrollment in a private school. Applications are being accepted now, however, you must apply online.

If you have a toddler who is ready for preschool; if your child is a new DC student; or if you have decided that your child needs an educational placement change outside your neighborhood, you must apply for the My School DC Common Lottery before registering your child in school. If your child was already attending his or her neighborhood school and you have moved to a different address, you must also participate in the lottery to retain their seat.

Special education students who require less than 20 hours of specialized instruction outside the general education classroom, as required by their IEP, can expect any DCPS school to meet all their accommodations and services. Therefore, these students can submit a lottery application to change placement.

Students who require 20 hours or more of specialized instruction outside the general education classroom as required by their IEP, may not be ultimately matched with a school that is able to accommodate their needs. These students do not need to submit a lottery application. They should, instead, contact the DCPS Office of Specialized Instruction at (202) 432-4880 or contact Advocates for Justice and Education at (202) 678-8060 during regular business hours for assistance.

Here are some tips and information to help make the application process a smooth one.

TIP #1: 

Don’t know your neighborhood school? The Enrollment Boundary Information System can show you! Go to http://dcatlas.dcgis.dc.gov/schools/.

TIP #2:

Stay aware and on top of critical dates. Mark your calendar, or set reminders on your tablet or phone so that you will not miss important deadlines. Here are some critical dates to get you started: Application Deadlines:

  • February 2, 2015 – Round 1 deadline for 9th to 12th grade applicants.
  • March 2, 2015 – Round 1 deadline for PK3 -8th grade applicants.
  • May 1, 2015 – Enrollment deadline

TIP #3:

This application can only be completed and submitted ONLINE! If you do not have internet access at home, you can access it for free at any DC public library. Parents are also welcome to come in to AJE’s Parent Resource Center and use our internet to complete your application weekdays from 9am – 5pm (except holidays), and during some evenings. Please refer to our monthly training calendar to know when we offer extended library hours in the evenings.

All schools participating in My School DC have the following age requirements. Applicants for:

  • PK3 must be three years old by September 30, 2015
  • PK4 must be four years old by September 30, 2015
  • Kindergarten must be five years old by September 30, 2015

Applicants for Ingenuity Prep PCS and KIPP DC PCS have slightly different age requirements.  Applicants for PK3 must be no older than three years old on September 30, 2015.  Applicants for PK4 must be no older than four years old on September 30, 2015. Friendship PCS Kindergarten applicants must be no older than six years old by September 30, 2015. Age restrictions for grades 1 to 12 at DC Public Charter Schools vary from school to school.  If your child does not meet the age requirement for a particular school, you will be unable to select that school on your application. Please refer to the chart under the ‘FAQ’ tab on www.myschoolDC.org for more details. TIP #4:  Get the ‘My School DC Common Lottery and Enrollment Handbook’ manual from dcps.dc.gov. Read it online or download it to read off-line. This manual has more information and explanations than the blog post or the MySchoolDc.org has room for!!  Write down any questions you may have and note anything in the reading that you do not understand. Contact the My School DC hotline at (202) 888-6336 to have your questions answered or you may email your questions to info@myschooldc.org. The hotline is available Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm.  The hotline will accommodate non-English speakers through interpreter services at no cost to the caller. You may also bring your notes and questions with you to one of our parent workshops listed below and get help completing the application.

TIP #5:

Have all appropriate documentation ready and available when you complete your application. Information that you need to gather before you start the application are:

Your child(ren)’s student ID number. DCPS students’ number can be found on their student ID card. Public Charter School students have a Unique Student Identifier, or you can use the student’s DC One Card number. If you don’t have these items and don’t know your child’s student ID number, call the My School DC hotline at 202-888-6338. Preschool students and students new to DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools will not have a Student ID number. Additional documentation is necessary if your son or daughter is applying to one of the six DCPS schools that utilize a selection process for admission. The documents needed to apply to selective citywide high schools are:

  • DC CAS scores in math and reading,
  • final report cards from the 2013-14 school year
  • the most recent report card from the 2014-15 school year,
  • essay for schools as indicated below, and
  • E-mail addresses from the principal, reading and math teachers, counselors and other school staff to provide recommendations.

These schools are:

  • Banneker 9th – 10th      Essay 3,000 characters or less
  • Ellington 9th – 10th      Essay (x2) 1,000 characters or less.  No min. GPA
  • McKinley High School: 9th – 10th, Essay (x2) 3,000 characters or less, 140 characters                                  or less
  • Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School: 9th – 11th, Essay 3,000 characters or less
  • Columbia Heights Education Campus: 9th – 12th, No Essay, No min. GPA
  • School Without Walls: 9th – 12th, No Essay, No E-mails

Please refer to the chart on the myschoolsDC.org website for further details on essay requirements, school specific e-mail requirements, and selection standards for each school.

TIP #6:

Submit essays in MS Word format. Using the ‘Save As’ allows options to give the essay a name you can remember, to save it in a format that can be read by all versions (i.e. Word 97 – 2003), and to place the document in a place where it can be easily found later (such as the desktop or your flash drive).

School selections – You may list up to 12 in order of preference (the school you want most is the 1st choice, the school you will accept next is the 2nd choice and so on).  Have your list already prioritized when you sit down to complete the application to save time. TIP #7:

Generally, PK3/PK4 students do not qualify for right-to-attend privileges. However for the 2015 – 2016 school year two schools in wards 5, 6, and 8 will pilot a right-to-attend program. Please refer to page 5 of the lottery handbook for details on the schools and the program.

TIP #8: 

Don’t know your neighborhood school? The Enrollment Boundary Information System can show you! Go to http://dcatlas.dcgis.dc.gov/schools/.

TIP #9:

When deciding whether to accept sibling preferences, remember that the sibling is not guaranteed to keep his or her seat if the qualifying sibling leaves the school. Sibling preferences are also not considered at selective high schools. Other special circumstances apply at schools with special programming (i.e. Dual Language, Montessori and Cluster schools). You will need the Student ID numbers of all Students for the application. Be sure to refer to the Lottery Handbook for complete information.

TIP #10:

Parents, visit the top three schools on the list at least once without your child and at least twice with your child to observe their programs in action and to make sure those schools and programs will be a good fit for your children. You should plan to visit any other schools on your list as time permits in case your top three choices are unavailable. TIP #11:  Parents often share information about schools and child development centers. Perhaps someone has told you about a school or childcare program that has worked for a child with a disability similar to your child. Do not enroll your child on the word of mouth alone. Do your due diligence and visit the school yourself! Actually, before committing to any enrollment, parents should visit a few different schools on several different days to observe their programs in action to make sure that those programs would be a good fit for their children. Advocates for Justice and Education will be holding parent workshops to provide assistance in completing the My School DC Common Lottery application from 5:30pm – 7:00pm at our office located at 25 E St. NW. Washington DC 20001 on:

  • January 21st
  • February 2nd
  • February 18th
  • March 22nd

TIP #12:

Parents can also contact AJE by leaving a message at the end of this or any blog article in the blog section of our website’s home page. Information for this post was compiled from www.myschoolDC.org and the ‘DC Lottery and Enrollment Handbook’ Version 1 (as of 12/8/2014)

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