Boston Public Schools is looking at solutions for its maximum age restriction, so students in the alternative education programs celebrating their 22nd birthday don’t have to immediately leave the school system.
Currently, BPS requires that students can only be enrolled in school until their 22nd birthday, even if that date is before the completion of the semester. While a majority of these students were housed at the Boston Adult Technical Academy, there are students in the district who fit the criteria, which is why the School Committee wants to create a uniform policy for all the schools.
“Any policy that designates the end of a K-12 public education system, that line needs to be drawn somewhere, and be drawn equitably,” said Interim Superintendent Laura Perille at Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting. “…I do want to be clear — If that 22-year-old birthday hits at the wrong time for any one student, it is heartbreaking and challenging, but it is a substantial obligation and commitment that this district and this city, and all of you (School Committee members), and our policies commit to many students.”
BATA is a program designed for 19- to 21-year-old students, but due to inconsistent enforcement in the district, overage students remained on the roster. Last year, the School Committee had come up with a temporary plan for the problem, waiving the requirement and allowing all students who turned 22 in the middle of the spring 2018 semester to stay until the end of the academic year. This year, the committee wants a permanent plan put into place
“This needs to get done this year so we aren’t doing this again next year and causing the same anxiety for folks that may be put in this position across the district,” said committee chair Michael Locanto.
Currently there are 97 students in the district who are 21.5 and older, with 34 of those on Independent Education Programs and not diploma-bound, 7 at BDEA and 29 at BATA. The different alternative programs across the district however have different models and focus areas, which creates a challenge for the district.
One alternative is to let all students who turn 22 during the school year exit at the end of the academic year. The second alternative is to create an alternative/adult education hybrid and allowing dual rosters for BATA teachers.
Some of the issues raised concerned financial and equity implications as well as program practice.
“It is a complex issue,” said committee member Michael O’Neill.
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