Enrolling in the Program
To enroll a child in the METCO program in Boston, application must be made in person at the METCO, Inc. office. Springfield pupils should contact the Springfield school department.
To sign up for the program a parent must provide proof of residency and a birth certificate. Proof of residency can be a mortgage or utility bill. Students successfully signed up are placed on a waiting list until he or she is selected for placement. METCO Inc. works with the family to prepare an enrollment folder. Once the intake process is completed and the school records are received in full, METCO Inc. forwards the applicants' enrollment folder to school districts with openings for the particular grade level needed. Ultimately, placement decisions are based upon:
completion of the METCO application packet;
submission of all school records;
date of registration;
district grade and seat availability;
presence of siblings on the waiting list;
special education status (students with existing special education placement determinations that call for out-of-district placement are generally not participants in METCO since the purpose of the program is participation in the district schools); and
race (in the past seven years, Hispanics and Asians have been given some preference to openings in an effort to have the METCO program reflect better the minority population of the Boston Public Schools).
The Department, through its service provider, METCO Inc., prohibits the screening out of students for anything other than an applicant's unwillingness to fulfill basic registration procedures or as described under the special education question below. No special consideration is to be given to any applicant for entrance into the program, such as one's political affiliation, one's athletic or other recognized talent, or one's relationship to a METCO staff member.
Are students with special education needs allowed to enroll in the METCO Program?
Yes. Metco districts are required to provide a full range of in-district special education services to eligible students. However, if a student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that calls for an out-of-district placement, then the METCO district is not obligated to accept that student. In all other cases, however, whether for initial intake into the program or for continuation in the program, school districts must provide in-district special education services and must adhere to special education regulations.
It is worth noting that if a student is already participating in the METCO program and develops special education needs that suggest the possibility of needing an out-of-district placement, the receiving METCO district may still be required to provide services in-district. The student may only be placed in an out-of-district placement if both the METCO district and the sending district are in agreement that the student needs such a placement. Otherwise, the METCO district must continue to serve the student in-district (see 603 CMR 28.03(4)(i)(1)(ii)). Special education law requires that students be served in the least restrictive setting possible and the METCO district cannot make a unilateral out-of-district placement for a student who has been accepted to METCO with an IEP that requires in-district services. If both districts agree to an out-of-district setting, then the responsibility for the student reverts to the sending district (i.e. Boston or Springfield).
Are limited English proficient (LEP) students allowed to enroll in the METCO program?
Yes. There is no stipulation that a student speak English in order to register or get placed in METCO. To deny a placement based on language proficiency would be a civil rights violation. If an LEP student enrolls in a METCO program and has low English proficiency, it is the receiving school district's responsibility to ensure that initial language assessment and adequate language support are provided.
Do METCO students receive services in addition to those provided to resident students?
In most METCO districts, a METCO director coordinates the program and provides support to METCO students either directly or indirectly. This support may include the hiring of staff who serve METCO students or through grant-related initiatives that are earmarked for METCO students. For example, some towns hire academic counselors who are responsible for monitoring the progress of METCO students. Other towns have METCO tutoring initiatives in which METCO students are strongly encouraged to attend and where they get special academic support. In other programs, there are host family/family friends initiatives or motivational speaker events for METCO students.
Can a METCO student be 'involuntary withdrawn' or 'terminated' from the METCO program?
METCO students and resident students are to be held to the same academic and behavioral expectations. In all cases of potential termination (involuntary removal), there must be clear communication and due process followed. For example, if a METCO student is failing multiple subjects and missing an inordinate number of school days, a meeting should be held to address the situation. In all cases, everything must be done to ensure that the student's and family's wishes and interests are respected. Prior to any return to the sending district, all parties involved must agree that it is in the student's best interest to return to the Boston or Springfield Public Schools. The Department has stated that only in 'rare' cases should METCO students be terminated from a program and after every effort has been made to rectify an academic, behavioral, or other issue.