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Why the application process for Detroit’s selective K-8 schools started with the district

Anthony Lanzilote

Parents trying to get their kids enrolled in one of the Detroit school district’s selective elementary and middle schools are having to contend with a new central online application process that district officials say will ensure equal access to the schools.

The changes are similar to those made last year to the application process for the district’s selective high schools. The changes at the high school were divisive, but they resulted in more middle school students gaining admittance.

The district has 10 application schools in grades K-8. Each school has its own focus, which ranges from gifted and talented and African-centered education to foreign language immersion and single gender education.

Time is running out for parents hoping to get their children in one of these schools: The enrollment application period began April 1 and runs through Wednesday.

New this year: Applications must be submitted online. Parents no longer submit their applications to one school. They apply directly to the district, filling out one application for up to three schools, and they must rank their preferences. Parents also must submit a recommendation and report cards for any student entering the first grade or higher.

The changes are meant to “standardize the process so that we can ensure equitable access to the schools and track enrollment through the process,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said in a statement.

The decision making, though, will remain with school leaders, Vitti said.

“This will allow us to better manage the available seats at all schools to promote alternative options,” Vitti said. “In the past, each school managed its own process on its own. That meant if a student applied to three schools and was accepted to all three, two schools may not find out that the student was not enrolling until the fall.”

Some schools have additional application requirements that go beyond a recommendation and report cards. That can include testing, interviews, student writing samples, and additional letters of recommendation.

Parents will learn by May 31 if and where their child was accepted.

The district has held workshops throughout April to help parents fill out applications, particularly those who don’t have access to a computer at home.

These are the district’s K-8 application schools:

  • Chrysler Elementary
  • Academy of the Americas
  • Bates Academy
  • Foreign Language Immersion & International Cultural Studies
  • Golightly Education Center
  • Marcus Garvey Academy
  • Paul Robeson/Malcolm X Academy
  • Spain Elementary-Middle School
  • Clippert Multicultural Honors Academy
  • Ludington Magnet Middle and Arts Academy

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