Magnet Programs
Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

  1. What are magnet programs?
    Magnet programs are theme-oriented programs with a specialized curriculum or an emphasis on instruction that is different from that generally offered in other schools in the school system.  They provide in-depth experiences and distinct choices for students with different interests, talents, and aptitudes, while fulfilling Baltimore County Public Schools' requirements for promotion and graduation.  Access to these specialized programs is provided through the magnet application process.

  2. What magnet programs are available to students?
    Baltimore County Public Schools offers over 100 magnet programs for elementary, middle and high school students.  Descriptions of the magnet programs available at each level are provided on the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site and in the magnet program brochures.

  3. Are magnet programs only for students in GT/Advanced Academic courses?
    No.  Magnet programs address the interests and needs of a wide range of students.  Any student who has a strong interest in and a particular talent or aptitude for one of the specialized programs is encouraged to apply.  No admission advantage or priority is given to students in advanced academic courses.  Advanced academic courses are available in almost all Baltimore County public schools and are described in detail on the Office of Advanced Academic's Web site.

  4. Do students with disabilities receive support services at the schools with magnet programs?
    Students with disabilities, including those on Section 504 plans and with Individualized Education Programs, are entitled to accommodations, supports, and services at the school of enrollment.  Special education and related services are available at all public schools, including magnet schools and programs, within Baltimore County Public Schools. Parents with questions regarding the availability of special education support services at a particular school should contact the department chair for special education at the individual school or contact the Office of Special Education at (443) 809-3660.

  5. Where are the magnet programs located?
    Elementary, middle, and high school magnet programs are available at a number of public school locations throughout Baltimore County.  The host school(s) for each magnet program is identified in the program description.  A map of schools hosting magnet programs is available on the Office of Magnet Programs’ Web site and in the magnet program brochures.

  6. Will my child receive transportation to and from the magnet program?
    Transportation is provided to students who live within the established transportation zone of a magnet program. The transportation zones can be found in the magnet brochures and in the program descriptions on the right side of the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site.  Baltimore County Public Schools does not provide magnet program transportation outside of the established transportation zone.

  7. How is transportation for magnet programs provided?
    At the elementary level, some transportation is provided at pick-up points within the neighborhoods and some transportation is arranged as shuttle service from the home school location.  Shuttle service from the home school may require students to ride the regular neighborhood bus or to walk to the home school, where they are picked up as a group and then transported to the magnet program.  Parents are notified of specific transportation provisions prior to the opening of school.

    At the secondary level, transportation is provided between a limited number of pick-up points, located at designated school sites.  Students are notified of their respective pick-up points prior to the opening of school for the upcoming year. Parents are responsible for transporting their student to and from the pick-up points.  Pick-up points do not fall under the same guidelines as regular bus stops with regard to distance and walking conditions.  In addition, supervision is not provided by the school system at pick-up points.

Application Process – Current Residents

  1. Who may apply to magnet programs?
    All students, including students with disabilities, who are eligible to attend a Baltimore County public school at the time of application may apply.  Please be aware, magnet programs do have entry grade-level restrictions.  Students who are homeless are entitled to apply to a magnet program just as any other student. (Please refer to PS 512 – http://www.bcps.org/offices/sss/pupil_personnel/).

Parents of children with Special Education plans are encouraged to work with their school's Special Education team and/or Special Education Transition Facilitator in completing the magnet application.

  1. How do I apply for a magnet program?
    You may apply online or you may download and print a paper application from the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site (www.bcps.org/offices/omp).  Parents should carefully review all application materials, noting that ALL high school programs require an on-site assessment that the student must attend.

  2. What documents must be submitted with the application?
    For high school applicants: 
    • Report Cards:  Applicants to high school magnet programs who received grade reports from a non-BCPS school for any portion of the 2016-2017 school year must submit a copy of the report card(s) to the Office of Magnet Programs at the time of application.  The parent must submit the required report card information and the application to the Office of Magnet Programs by the application deadline.

    Applicants who will receive a report card from a non-BCPS school for the first quarter/trimester of the 2017-2018 school year, must submit a copy of the report card when available, but not later than December 15, 2017.

    Report cards can be uploaded and submitted with an online application.

    • Testing Accommodations:  Applicants to high school magnet programs who receive testing accommodations as part of a documented education plan in a non-BCPS school must submit a copy of the education plan with the application.

    Accommodation documents can be uploaded and submitted with an online application.

For applicants seeking early admission to kindergarten:

  • The parent must submit a copy of the letter sent to the applicant’s zoned school principal requesting Early Admission to Kindergarten Testing. See the elementary magnet program brochure for a sample letter and more information. The copy should be sent to the Office of Magnet Programs at the time of applicatio

    A copy of the letter can be uploaded and submitted with an online application.
  1. If my child is currently on a wait list for a magnet program, do I need to re-apply?
    All students seeking admission to a magnet program must apply for the school year for which admission is sought.  To be considered for a magnet program for the 2018-2019 school year, you MUST apply by the application deadline, Friday, November 17, 2017.  Please be aware that entry grade-level restrictions are in place for magnet programs and/or schools.  Some schools and programs permit application for multiple grade levels and others do not.  Review the magnet brochure for specific information.

  2. Will I jeopardize my child's chances of being offered a seat from the current wait list if I apply for a magnet program for 2018-2019?
    No.  Your child's status on the 2017-2018 wait list will remain active until the close of business on Friday, November 3, 2017, regardless of whether or not you submit an application for the 2018-2019 school year.

  3. May I select more than one magnet program on the application?
    You may select up to three (3) magnet programs on the application.  Submit only one application for each applicant.

  4. May I select more than one magnet program at a school?
    Yes, students may select to up to three magnet programs.  Those program selections may be at one school, if available, or spread over multiple schools.

  5. May I fax or e-mail my application?
    No.  Applications are to be submitted via the Magnet Online Application System by 1 p.m. on Friday, November 17, 2017, or sent via U.S. mail or an approved carrier to the Office of Magnet Programs, 105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Jefferson Building, Towson, MD 21204, postmarked by Friday, November 17, 2017. 

  6. May I change my selection(s) after submitting my application?
    ANY
    changes in program selection(s) MUST be made online or by submitting a REVISED paper application by the application deadline, Friday, November 17, 2017.

  7. How will I know that my application is received?
    Online applicants will receive an e-mailed confirmation of receipt.  For verification of mailed applications, parents are strongly encouraged to send the application via certified mail, with a return receipt requested from the U.S. Post Office. The certified mail receipt serves as verification of delivery and as your proof of timely submission.

  8. What happens if my application is received after the deadline or is not received?
    Applications will not be processed without proof of timely submission (i.e., a clear date stamp or a certified mail receipt).  This includes applications postmarked or received without a legible postal date stamp after the application deadline, Friday, November 17, 2017.

Application Process – New Residents

  1. Can I apply for a magnet program if my child moves into Baltimore County after the application deadline?
    Parents of students who are new residents of Baltimore County after the application deadline and before the start of the school year for which admission is being sought may submit a New Resident Letter of Interest to the Office of Magnet Programs.  Information regarding the new resident application process, the letter of interest, and required documentation is made available on the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site beginning in April of each year.  New resident applicants are considered if program seats become available and the wait list for the program has been exhausted.

  2. If my child lives in Baltimore County but does not attend a public school in Baltimore County, can I apply as a new resident?
    No.  A student who lived in Baltimore County prior to the application deadline, whether or not the student attended a Baltimore County public school, is not eligible to apply as a new resident.  Any student who lived in Baltimore County prior to the application deadline was eligible to apply during the regular application cycle.

Admission Process – Qualification

  1. What are the requirements to be considered for placement in a magnet program?

    Elementary and Middle School Magnet Programs
    Applicants to elementary and middle school magnet programs must be eligible to attend a Baltimore County public school and, if applying to kindergarten, must either meet Maryland Age of Entry requirements at the time of application or must qualify for early admission to kindergarten as a result of testing at their zoned elementary schools.  (A copy of the letter requesting early admission to kindergarten testing must be submitted with the magnet application.)  There are no other academic or performance criteria for the elementary or middle school magnet programs.

    High School Magnet Programs
    Applicants to high school magnet programs must be eligible to attend a Baltimore County public school and must complete the magnet evaluation and assessment process.  For most high school magnet programs, the evaluation includes an assessment of the student’s academic performance for the most recent 5 quarters/4 trimesters and a program-specific assessment conducted by the school hosting the magnet program.
  1. How is academic performance evaluated? (high school ONLY)
  2. The academic performance for the previous year and the first quarter/trimester of the current year may be reviewed and evaluated.  Program specific academic criteria and associated point values are provided in the Assessment Guidelines, which are available from the Office of Magnet Programs’ Web site.

For high school applicants who have received Baltimore County Public School (BCPS) report cards during the 2016-2017 and the first quarter of the 2017-2018 school year, the academic grade reports will be obtained by the Magnet Office from BCPS system data. 
Applicants who received grade reports from a non-BCPS school for any portion of the 2016-2017 school year must submit a copy of the report card(s) at the time of application.  Applicants who will receive a report card from a non-BCPS school for the first quarter/trimester of the 2017-2018 school year, must submit a copy of that report card when received, but no later than December 15, 2017.

Academic grades, current mathematics enrollment and attendance may be reviewed. Students are awarded points for meeting established standards. There is no weighting or special consideration given to grades received in gifted and talented classes, trimester grades, or grades that are calculated on scales other than those used by Baltimore County Public Schools.  (For additional information, please refer to the High School Magnet Program Scoring Guidelines - http://www.bcps.org/offices/omp/high/scoring_guidelines.html).

  1. What is the magnet assessment? (high school ONLY)
    ALL high schools with magnet programs conduct assessments that are specific to each magnet program and may include an audition, practicum, interview, writing sample, test, and/or performance assessment.  It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure that the applicant has an assessment appointment, to note the date and time of the assessment, to review the application materials, and to ensure that the applicant prepares for and attends the assessment.  Assessment Guidelines are available on the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site.

  2. Why is it important to obtain the Assessment Guidelines prior to the assessment(s)? (high school ONLY)
    The Assessment Guidelines contain specific information regarding the components of each assessment and any preparation required prior to the assessment.  They may also include sample questions and self-evaluation tools.  The guidelines may be downloaded from the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site, or they may be obtained from individual schools at which assessments are held.  It is the parent's responsibility to obtain the Assessment Guidelines for each program to which the applicant applies.

  3. What if my child has documented testing accommodations?
    Students receiving special education, 504, and/or ESOL services are given the same consideration in the selection process as all other students.  Documented testing accommodations and modifications will be provided during the high school magnet assessment process.  Parents of students not attending a Baltimore County public school must submit documentation of testing accommodation requirements with the magnet application.  

    Parents of children with Special Education plans are strongly encouraged to work with their school's Special Education team and/or Special Education Transition Facilitator in completing the magnet application. 

Admission Process – Selection

  1. Do students currently enrolled in magnet programs receive preference in selection for magnet programs at the next level (middle or high)?
    No.  Current magnet students must reapply for the next level (ex. fifth grader going to middle school or eighth grader going to high school) and are not provided with any preference in the admissions process.

  2. Do students currently on a wait list for a magnet program get preferential placement in the next application cycle?
    No.  All applicants are given equal consideration.  In order to be considered for placement in the next application cycle, wait-listed students must apply and qualify for their program(s) of interest.  Some grade-level restrictions may apply.

  3. How are applicants selected for placement in a magnet program?
    If there are fewer applicants than seats available for a magnet program, all eligible applicants are offered placement.     

Elementary and Middle School magnet programs – If the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats available, seats are first filled with priority placements and then a random lottery is conducted to fill all remaining seats and to generate a wait list.

High School magnet programs – If the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats available, seats are first filled with priority placements.  Next, a random lottery of applicants who score 80% or higher on the admissions criteria will be conducted to fill available seats and to generate a wait list.  Finally, a random lottery will be conducted in order of descending scores (79%, 78%, 77%, etc.) to fill available seats and generate a wait list.

  1. Who receives priority placement in magnet programs?
    Child of an Employee – When an employee’s primary work site is a school with a magnet program and the employee’s child applies to a magnet program in that school, the child will be given priority placement in the magnet program as follows:
    1.     For elementary and middle school magnet programs, the child must be an eligible applicant.
    2.     For high school magnet programs, the child must be an eligible applicant and score 80% of higher on the admissions criteria.

Kindergarten Sibling Priority Placement - At the elementary level, eligible kindergarten applicants who have an older sibling who is currently enrolled in and who will continue to attend the same magnet program for which admission is being sought receive priority placement for that program.

High School Program Priority Placement - Up to 20% of the available seats will first be filled by applicants who score 80% or higher on the admissions criteria and who earn the highest scores on the magnet assessment(s). 

Note: Sibling applicants, including multiples, do not receive preferential placement.

  1. How and when will I be notified of my admission status?
    All applicants receive written notification of their status from the Office of Magnet Programs.  Magnet Decision Letters for elementary and middle school applicants will be mailed by February 8, 2018.  Magnet Decision Letters for high school applicants will be mailed by March 9, 2018 (dates subject to change). The following status categories are possible:
  • Accepted:  The applicant qualified and is offered a seat in the program.
  • Wait Listed:  The applicant qualified but is not offered a seat at that time (see below). Instead, the applicant is assigned a wait list number based on his/her computer-generated random placement.
  • Disqualified:  The applicant did not complete the application/assessment process. Applications are considered incomplete if any required materials are not submitted or if the high school applicant does not attend the required audition/assessment.  The applicant is not offered admission to the program nor placed on the wait list.
  • Not Eligible:  An application was submitted for a program to which the applicant could not apply due to residency, age-of-entry status, or grade-level restrictions.
  1. If I am offered and accept a magnet placement, what do I need to do next?
    The school will contact you with enrollment information and the date by which enrollment must be completed.  Failure to enroll by the date set by the school may result in forfeiture of the program seat.

    PLEASE NOTE:
    1. Enrollment in a magnet program is contingent upon proof of eligibility to attend a Baltimore County public school.
    2. The parent is responsible for providing transportation to and from the magnet program if transportation is not provided by Baltimore County Public Schools.  Where transportation is provided by Baltimore County Public Schools, parents are responsible for transporting their student to and from the designated magnet bus stop.
    3. When placement is accepted in a magnet program that is not in the child's zoned (neighborhood) school, the child will be enrolled as a "Special Transfer" student under the terms and conditions of Board Policy and Superintendent’s Rule 5140 (available at http://www.bcps.org/system/policies_rules/).

Admission Process – Wait List

  1. How do I get my child on a wait list?
    Only students who applied by the application deadline and meet the qualification requirements for a magnet program can be placed on a wait list.  When there are more applicants for a magnet program than there are seats to accommodate them, a random lottery selection process is used to fill the available seats and create a wait list for the program.  Placement on the wait list means, as a result of the random lottery process, your child was not selected for initial placement.  If a student who was offered admission declines the placement, the unfilled seat can then be offered to students on the wait list.  Wait lists are maintained until the close of business on the last day of the first quarter of the school year for which admission is sought.

  2. What does the wait-list number mean?
    The wait-list number indicates your child's position on the wait list.  Unfilled seats are offered to students in ascending order of the wait list number, starting with the student who is number 1 on the wait list.  You will need your child’s wait-lis\` number when checking on your child's wait-list status.  Your child's wait-list number will not change even though the number of students on the wait list may decrease as placements are offered.

  3. How can I check the status of the wait list?
    The wait-list status for all programs is posted on the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site (www.bcps.org/offices/omp) beginning in mid-April.  The posted wait list will identify the next wait-list number to be contacted if a program seat becomes available, as well as the next scheduled update.  It is recommended that parents frequently check the wait list for updates.

  4. What are my child's chances of getting into a program from the wait list?
    If an applicant is offered placement in a magnet program and declines the seat, the Office of Magnet Programs will contact the next applicant on the wait list by telephone.  This process continues until the close of business on the last day of the first quarter of the school year for which admission is sought.  It is impossible to predict how many, if any, applicants may decline a placement offer.  If all of the seats in a program are filled, no additional applicants will be offered placement from the wait list.

  5. How will I be contacted with a placement offer?
    The Office of Magnet Programs will contact parents of wait-listed applicants by telephone using the phone number(s) provided on the application.  If no one is available to take the call, the office staff must be able to leave a message.  It is the parent's responsibility to inform the Office of Magnet Programs if the phone number changes.

  6. If my child is offered placement, how long will I have to make a decision?
    The parent will have three (3) daysin which to respond to the placement offer.  If the last day to accept the offer falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or a school system holiday, the period ends on the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or school system holiday.  Failure to respond by the deadline will result in forfeiture of the seat and the offer will be extended to the next applicant on the wait list.

  7. If I accept a seat in one program, will my child be removed from the wait list(s) for other programs?
    No.  Your child will remain on the other wait list(s) until you are offered a seat, until the wait list is no longer active, or until you request your child to be removed from the wait list.  If you decline a placement offer for a program, your child will only be removed from that program's list.

  8. If I have two or more children on a wait list for the same magnet program or school and one is offered a seat, will the sibling(s) be offered placement at the same time?
    No.  Sibling applicants, including multiples, receive no priority placement from the wait lists.  Applicants can only be offered placement in the order in which they appear on the wait list.

  9. If I accept a magnet placement offer from the wait list, what do I need to do next?
    Parents will need to schedule an enrollment appointment with the school.  Failure to enroll in a timely manner may result in forfeiture of the program seat.

    PLEASE NOTE: 
    1. Enrollment in a magnet program is contingent upon proof of eligibility to attend a Baltimore County public school.
    2. The parent is responsible for providing transportation to and from the magnet program if transportation is not provided by Baltimore County Public Schools.
    3. When placement is accepted in a magnet program that is not in the child's zoned (neighborhood) school, the child will be enrolled as a "Special Transfer" student under the terms and conditions of Policy and Rule 5140 (available at http://www.bcps.org/system/policies_rules/).
  10. What should I do if my child is not offered placement from the wait list by the start of the school year?
    You will need to enroll your child in his/her zoned (neighborhood) school or any other school where your child has been offered placement.

  11. Could my child be offered a seat after the school year starts?
    Yes.  Placement offers may be made until the close of business on the last day of the first quarter of the school year for which admission is sought.  If you accept a magnet program placement after the start of the school year, your child will be permitted to transfer at that time.  The school will assist parents in the transfer and registration process.

Withdrawal Process

  1. Is it possible for my child to transfer from one magnet program to another?
    No.  Students may not transfer from one magnet program to another.  Students wishing to change magnet programs must apply and be offered placement for the program during the regular application cycle.  Some grade-level restrictions may be in place for certain programs.

  2. Can my child stay in the magnet program if we move?
    Students admitted to the magnet programs may remain in the program as long as their parents are residents of Baltimore County, and the student has not been withdrawn to attend another school, public or private.  If a family or student moves within Baltimore County but out of the magnet program's transportation zone, transportation will not be provided by BCPS.

  3. Can I request a temporary leave of absence from a magnet program?
    A parent of a student enrolled in a magnet program may request a temporary leave of absence.  Any request for temporary leave from a magnet school or program must be approved, in advance of such leave of absence, by the principal of the school.  Re-enrollment in a magnet program will not be granted if the student is withdrawn without a pre-approved leave of absence. (For additional information, please refer to Superintendent’s Rule 6400: Magnet Programs.)

  4. Under what circumstances will a leave-of-absence request be considered?
    • A student may be granted a leave of absence for a maximum of one (1) year if the family and/or student move(s) out of Baltimore County temporarily.
    • A student may be granted a leave of absence from the magnet program for medical reasons for the period of time necessary to complete treatment and/or recovery from treatment for any of the following reasons:

      (1) A stay as a patient in a hospital or medical facility for an extended period of time; or
      (2) Enrollment in a licensed full-time substance abuse treatment program.

    • Requests which are based on medical, physical, or mental health reasons must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or mental health provider.

  5. Under what circumstances can my child be withdrawn from a magnet program?

    (1)  Parents may remove students from magnet schools and programs and return them to their home schools. Principals of the students' home schools will not deny the enrollment of such students.

    (2)  Any student who violates the code of conduct is subject to suspension, assignment to an alternative program or expulsion as provided in Board of Education Policy 5550: Disruptive Behavior.  At the end of the expulsion period, the superintendent's designee, in consultation with the community superintendent, may either return the student to the magnet program from which he/she was expelled or place the student in his/her zoned school or other appropriate placement.

    (3)  A student may be withdrawn from a magnet program at the end of the year if the student fails one or more required courses in a magnet program.

A student who is withdrawn from a magnet program shall be enrolled in the student’s zoned school, unless the parent has arranged for admission to another school.

Any decision by the principal to withdraw a student from a magnet program because of academic failure in a required magnet course shall be approved in advance by the coordinator of Magnet Programs. The principal will provide the student's parent(s) with a written explanation of the basis for the withdrawal that includes the process for appealing the decision.

Appeal Process

  1. Under what circumstances can I appeal?
    Parents may appeal admission or withdrawal decision made under Superintendent's Rule 6400.

  2. How do I appeal an admission or dismissal decision?
    Appeals must be made by the parent in writing to the Director of Educational Options, within ten (10) calendar days of the Office of Magnet Programs’ admission decision, or  the principals decision to withdraw the student from the magnet program.  An appeal will be considered timely filed, if, within the allotted time period, it has been delivered to the Director of Educational Options, or postmarked, or deposited in the U.S. mail as registered or certified mail.  Electronic submissions are not accepted.

  3. What happens when an admission or dismissal decision is appealed to the Director of Educational Options?
    The Director or the Director's designee researches any relevant concerns raised in the appeal; reviews all relevant documentation, policies, rules, and procedures; and makes a determination as to whether or not the decision was made in accordance with Board Policy and Superintendent's Rule 6400 and the admission/ withdrawal procedures for Magnet Programs.

  4. How will I be informed of an appeal decision?
    The Director of Educational Options, or his/her designee, will review the facts of the case and issue a final decision in writing.  The director, or his/her designee, will make every effort to issue a written decision within thirty business days of the receipt of the written appeal.

  5. What If my appeal is denied by the Director of Educational Options?
    Appeals of magnet admissions or withdrawal decisions by the Director of Educational Options must be made in writing to the Superintendent within ten (10) calendar days of the date of the letter from the Director of Educational Options, or the postmarked date, whichever is later.  An appeal will be considered timely filed, if, within the allotted time period, it has been delivered to the Superintendent, or postmarked, or deposited in the U.S. mail as registered or certified mail. Electronic submissions will not be accepted. The Superintendent or the Superintendent's designee will research and evaluate the appeal and issue a written decision.

    If the appeal is denied by the Superintendent, or a designee, the written decision will inform the parent(s) of the right to appeal in writing to the Board within thirty (30) calendar days of the date of the denial letter in accordance with §4-205 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland and Policy 8339 – Internal Board Policies: Operations, Appeal Before Hearing Examiner. An appeal will be considered timely filed, if, within the allotted time period, it has been delivered to the Board, postmarked, or deposited in the U.S. Mail as registered or certified mail.

Other Questions

  1. What if my question is not addressed here?
    Please explore the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site to get answers to other questions.  To help you in your research, the Web site contains links to a variety of information including program descriptions, application materials, timelines, a flyer for the Magnet EXPO!, magnet showcase schedules, and magnet assessment schedules.  There is also a map showing the locations of the magnet programs to assist applicants in making application selections.

For additional information, please call the Office of Magnet Programs at (443) 809-4127.


©2017 Baltimore County Public Schools. All rights reserved. This site is optimized for 1280 display resolution and for use with the latest versions of most browsers.