Tuesday, February 26, 2013

So It Turns Out RIDE Thinks BVP's Lottery was Illegal All Along

So the big reveal from today's pre-hearing meeting (I knew there had to be one) was that RIMA requested an opinion from RIDE last April regarding the legality of various lottery systems which might apply to mayoral academies, including the one they've used all along, offering an equal number of enrollments to students from each sending district.

RIDE's opinion from Acting-Commissioner David Abbott was that any system that required multiple lotteries was not in compliance with the law. This hinges on the mayoral academy law calling for "a lottery," interpreted as singular. This, in RIDE's mind, trumps the requirement to "offer an equal number of enrollments to students on a lottery basis."

Linguistically, I'm dubious about the significance placed on the singular nature of "lottery," as one can still run a lottery that has multiple games (e.g., the Rhode Island Lottery). Also, it doesn't explain what "offer an equal number of enrollments to students" is supposed to mean.

Beyond that, every shred of evidence I've found regarding the intent of the law is consistent with offering and equal number of enrollments to each sending community, or at least split between urban/non-urban equally, up to and including Jeremy Chiappetta's blog post from November:

...the innovative Rhode Island Mayoral Academy model, whereby Rhode Island statute requires that half of the Mayoral Academy seats are offered to urban students and half to non-urban students.

This suggests BVP is not too concerned about RIDE's "advisory in nature and not binding" legal opinion. Now that we know the opinion exists, I imagine it will be a hot topic when BVP's charter comes up for renewal. Might save Lincoln a lot of money, given that early last February BVP's application breakdown was 50% Pawtucket; 23% Central Falls; 23% Cumberland; 4% Lincoln. Pawtucket, on the other hand, may go broke.

In the meantime, we'll see how this year's lotteries go.

The opinion is here.

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