New Sibling Preference Policy for School Enrollment Announced

January 3, 2012
Abbe Smith
NHPS Director of Communications
New policy will give top preference to combination of sibling and neighborhood factors, allows families to put all siblings on the same application
In an effort to improve the school enrollment and magnet lottery process for parents, New Haven Public Schools is announcing a new sibling preference policy and new information to help parents make more informed decisions when choosing a magnet or charter school.
The new sibling preference policy gives top preference to siblings who live in the designated attendance (neighborhood) zone of a school and it applies to magnet, charter and neighborhood schools. The idea for the change was born out of discussions by the Board of Education and the volunteer Redistricting Committee, as well as public input from parents who advocated for sibling preference.
In the past, New Haven offered preference to students who live in the designated neighborhood zone of a school. The change underscores the school district’s commitment to giving priority to families wishing to have their children enrolled together in their assigned school. Magnet School applications became available to the public on Jan. 2. The deadline for turning in the application is Feb. 15.
“The new sibling preference policy is an example of parents getting involved and having a real impact on education,” said Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who is also a member of the Board of Education. “These changes will dramatically improve the registration and lottery processes for parents and, more importantly, they will help families get their children into the same school. School Change is about improving all aspects of the school system so that our students have the tools they need to succeed.”
“I applaud the leadership of the Board of Education, the hard work of the Redistricting Committee and the parents who had their voices be heard on an important issue,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo. “This policy will help families by making it easier to get all of their children in one school. That is a huge step forward.”
“Navigating the magnet lottery and registration processes can be challenging for families. This change in policy represents an important first step in simplifying that process and improving the overall education experience for New Haven Public School families,” said Garth Harries, Assistant Superintendent of Portfolio and Performance Management. “We know we have a lot of work ahead to strengthen and streamline the registration process even further, based on the good work of the Redistricting Committee.”
Families can learn more about the new policies and get valuable information about schools at the upcoming Magnet School Fairs. The Citywide Magnet School Fair will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center, 480 Sherman Parkway (Next to Hillhouse High School). The Inter-District Magnet School Fair will be from 12 to 2 p.m. on Jan. 12 at Hill Regional Career High School, 140 Legion Ave.
Due to the seat limitations, there is no guarantee that any child will be placed in a particular school, even with the new policy in place. However, the lottery process is designed to give preference both to students residing within the attendance zone of a school and to those applicants that already have a brother or sister currently attending that school at the time of the application. To receive the sibling preference, the brother or sister must also live in the same household and have the same parents or legal guardian as the applicant. If a sibling applicant is not placed due to seat limitations, the preference will carry over for priority on the waiting list in the order of preferences listed below. Assignment to any New Haven Public School will adhere to the following priority sequence of preferences:
1. Siblings of current students who also live within the attendance (neighborhood) zone of that school (Neighborhood and Sibling Preference);
2. Non-sibling students living within the attendance zone of that school
(Neighborhood Preference Only);
3. Siblings of current students that live outside the attendance zone of that school
(Sibling Preference Only);
4. Non-sibling students living outside the attendance zone of that school (No Preference).
Another new change in policy for this year will be that families should include all of their children on the same application. Assignment of these multi-child applications will follow the priority sequences listed above, so that if one sibling is admitted, the other siblings will be given preference for seats available at that point of the lottery.
Families can find their child's attendance zone (formerly called neighborhood zone), by visiting or
A third change this year is the addition of Magnet School Lottery Data Charts in the application booklets that show last year’s lottery data for each magnet and charter school at the bottom of the page. Although the data changes year to year, families can see a snapshot by grade level of how many seats were available, how many applicants applied, how many applicants lived in the neighborhood and how many applicants had siblings in the New Haven booklet. The data charts are meant to help families make more informed decisions about choosing a magnet or charter school to apply to.
The full set of Redistricting Committee recommendations are available at Based on public discussion at the board of education and the Board of Aldermen, NHPS will be working to implement other recommendations for enrollment process leading to the 2014-15 school year and beyond.