"My School DC" wants to help parents as school lottery deadline looms

Families at EdFEST 2016 generating a list of schools to research using a School Finder tool. (photo courtesy My School DC)

by Elissa Fuchs

Figuring out the DC school lottery isn't easy, and the deadline to apply is fast approaching. Parents and guardians have under two weeks to submit their lottery applications to My School DC for public school grades Pre-K 3 through 8th grade. The lottery application deadline for those grades is March 1st.

The deadline for high school grades 9 through 12 was February 1st and has now passed. (Though, according to Emerald Becker, Director of Enrollment at DCPS who spoke at the February 8th ANC 4C meeting, you can still apply; you should check with My School DC for the details.)

For anyone unfamiliar with the lottery process, here’s how it works:

Parents create a family account on My School DC and enter their top 12 choices for DC’s public and charter schools. Parents or guardians applying for a Pre-K 3 or Pre-K 4 slot MUST enter the lottery, even for their in-bound school. Note that if you want a dual language program (like the the English/Spanish program at Powell, McFarland or Roosevelt) you have to apply for that dual language program.

Those who have children in kindergarten and higher are guaranteed a spot at their in-boundary school, but need to apply via the lottery for out-of-boundary public schools or charter schools.

People should remember that a few schools are not part of the lottery, and should reach out to those school directly for more information on their deadlines.

The good news about the lottery this year, says Aryan Bocquet, Parent Engagement Manager for My School DC, is that there are no big changes to application process itself. So, if you’ve done it before, it should be the same experience.

Michele DeSando, Parent Response Manager at My School DC, helping lottery applicants at EdFEST 2016. (photo courtesy My School DC)

People who have specific questions can visit My School DC field offices, or book a one-on-one appointment with a My School DC employee, Aryan points out. (See a PDF of the field office times.)

The School Finder tool on the My School DC website includes filters allowing people to narrow down their search by grade, distance, and program type, while past years’ results by school and grade are available on the site's data page.

Aryan’s overall advice is to do your research before pressing the submit button.

“We strongly recommend that all parents participating in the lottery to do as much research as feasible on the schools they apply to in advance of the application deadline … [they should] think of their needs and their child’s needs and be confident about their decisions," she said.

“Parents should not second guess themselves. They should rank their school choices in their true order of preference on their application. The algorithm used for the lottery is strategy-proof.”

Good luck!

Elissa Fuchs

Elissa writes feature-style human interest stories for Petworth News, often with a focus on health and wellness. A native Washingtonian, she now lives in 16th Street Heights with her husband and son. She works in communications and enjoys yoga and running in her spare time.

Contact Elissa with any story ideas or say hello when you see her at Qualia Coffee, one of her favorite Petworth spots.

submit to reddit