HAWTHORNE, NJ - On March 5, Superintendent of Schools Richard Spirito sent a letter to local families regarding the policy of allowing students from neighboring towns to attend Hawthorne High School by paying tuition.  At the moment, Spirito said, Hawthorne High School has one sophomore attending from North Haledon.

"The idea of school districts accepting tuition paying students is not uncommon," the letter read.  "In fact, a number of districts throughout the state of New Jersey allow for students to pay tuition and attend their high schools.  Previously, an option for school districts was to enroll in the New Jersey Interdistrict Public School Choice program sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Education.  There are 124 school districts participating in this program throughout the state but no new applications are being accepted.  A second option for school districts is to engage in a send-receive relationship whereby a district educates students from another community on a tuition basis.A third option is for districts to simply adopt their own policies and allow for this practice."

Spirito said that the Board of Education and administration had looked into making its own policy as a result of parents with school children in neighboring towns inquiring, as well as a decline in overall enrollment in the high school.  "It was also felt that this new policy would generate some revenue for the district, help offset expenses and support future budgets. The Board of Education and Administration began the process by investigating and reviewing policies and application procedures currently in place in districts throughout Bergen and Passaic Counties and in February 2020, Hawthorne adopted a new policy and application procedures.

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Spirito said that the policies and application had "very strict requirements" for out-of-town students to attend Hawthorne High, including records of two years of attendance, discipline records, two years of academic records, and two years of standardized test scores.  Additionally, there is a "mandatory interview with administration" and two staff members at their original school need to send in letters of recommendation.  "All of these required documents will be reviewed prior to acceptance and payment of tuition," Spirito said.  "Finally, if after this review the student were to be admitted, they would be required to maintain these high standards for the length of their stay at our High School."

The recently adopted policy also requires the Superintendent (or designee) to certify that adding another student "would not be detrimental to the school district," that no additional costs would be borne by the district "beyond the private tuition charged" for the student's needs, that the admission process is "first come, first served," and that the process would need to be renewed each year and that those "private tuition pupils" already enrolled would be preferred over new non-resident applicants thereafter.

ew policy also includes the following provisions:

•The Superintendent or his designee will certify that admission of an additional pupil would not be detrimental to the school district.

•The Superintendent or his designee certifies that the needs of the pupil are such that no additional expenditures, beyond the private tuition charged, will be needed.

•All pupils will be accepted in accordance with this policy on a first come, first served basis in grade levels that would allow for these additional students.•The application process must be completed annually and in succeeding school years, those attending as private tuition pupils will be given preference over new non-resident applicants for attendance.

The Application for Out of District Tuition Students is online as well as the Tuition Paying Pupils policy.

The Superintendent’s office can be reached at 973-427-1300.

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