Adoption of rules for admission to vocational schools

The state Board of Elementary-Secondary Education on Tuesday passed regulations regarding vocational school admissions, approving changes that Education Commissioner Jeff Riley says will bring Massachusetts closer to other states, give officials of the state the power to intervene in cases of non-compliance and update a process that “has not been touched” for 20 years.

Riley said the regulations will affect students applying to career and vocational-technical programs for the 2022-23 school year. He said they are directing vocational schools and districts offering vocational programs to “develop data-driven admissions policies to promote equitable access, comply with state and federal laws and regulations, and receive annual approval.” of the district school committee or the board of trustees”.

No council member voted against the settlement and parent representative Mary Ann Stewart voted present. Stewart said she wanted to see more clarity in the regulations.

A group called the Vocational Education Justice Coalition has been pushing for changes to admissions policies that they say disproportionately exclude students of color and those who learn English, have disabilities or come from families. low income.

The coalition had called for changes to the regulations ahead of the vote, identifying areas where its members felt the new approach fell short.

Lunenburg Senator John Cronin also called for changes, using the public comment period at Tuesday’s meeting to point out three questions he wanted answered: what admissions results should be set, which are fair and just. and which require an admission lottery.

“I’m afraid these answers to these questions will vary from district to district, from board member to board member, from commissioner to commissioner, from school administrator to school administrator,” did he declare. “Until we have clear regulations and standards that provide clear answers to these questions, we are only asking the hardest questions that surround this issue.”

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