Office of 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 70 different 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 Gifted & Talented students?
    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 the Gifted and Talented programs.  Gifted and Talented programs are available in almost all Baltimore County public schools and are described in detail on the Office of Gifted and Talented Education's Web site (www.bcps.org/offices/gt).

  4. Where are the magnet programs located?
    Baltimore County Public Schools provides magnet programs at six elementary school, seven middle school, and fifteen high school locations.  The host school(s) for each magnet program is identified in the program description on the Office of Magnet Programs’ Web site and on the magnet application.  A map of schools hosting magnet programs is available on the Office of Magnet Programs’ Web site and in the magnet program brochures.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.  Schools notify parents 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.  Schools notify students 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?
    Students who are eligible to attend a Baltimore County public school may apply.  Most programs 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/manuals.html ).

  2. How do I apply for a magnet program?
    You may obtain an application from a variety of sources: school counselors, magnet open houses, the Magnet EXPO!, public libraries, by mail upon request, or via the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site.  Parents should carefully review all application materials, noting that most middle and high school programs require an on-site assessment that the student must attend.  The parent must attach the required report card information (middle and high only) and submit the application to the Office of Magnet Programs by the application deadline. 

  3. 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 2014-2015 school year, you MUST apply by the application deadline, Tuesday, November 26, 2013.  Please be aware that entry grade level restrictions may be in place for certain 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.

  4. 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 2014-2015?
    No.  Your child's status on the 2013-2014 wait list will remain active until the close of business on Thursday, October 31, 2013, regardless of whether or not you submit an application for the 2014-2015 school year. 

  5. May I select more than one magnet program on the application?
    You may select one (1) magnet program per school and up to three (3) schools on the application.  Only one application should be submitted for each student applicant.

  6. May I fax my application?
    No.  Applications are to be sent via U.S. mail or an approved carrier.  Applications may also be hand-delivered to the Office of Magnet Programs, 105 W. Chesapeake Avenue, Jefferson Building, Towson, MD 21204, by 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

  7. May I change my selection(s) after submitting my application?
    ANY changes in program selection(s) MUST be made by submitting a NEW application by the application deadline, Tuesday, November 26, 2013.
  1. How will I know that my application is received?
    To verify that your application is received by the magnet office, 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.

  2. 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, hand-delivered, or received without a clear date stamp after the application deadline, Tuesday, November 26, 2013.

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 is 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

    Elementary magnet school applicants 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 attachedto the magnet application.)  There are no other academic or performance criteria for the elementary magnet programs.

    Middle and High
    Middle and high school magnet school applicants must be eligible to attend a Baltimore County public school and must qualify for the magnet program through the magnet evaluation and assessment process.
  1. How does a student qualify for a magnet program? (for middle and high school ONLY)
    Admission criteria established for entrance into most middle and high school magnet programs include academic performance and a magnet assessment.  In order to qualify for a middle school magnet program, students must earn at least 70 out of 100 possible points in the evaluation process.  In order to qualify for a high school magnet program, students must earn at least 80 out of 100 possible points in the evaluation process.  Specific information about admission criteria and scoring guidelines is available on the Office of Magnet Programs' Web site.


  2. How is academic performance evaluated? (for middle and high school ONLY)
    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.

ALL middle school and high school applicants must submit a copy of their report card(s) for the entire 2012–2013 school year with the magnet application.  2013-2014 first-quarter report cards for students currently enrolled in a Baltimore County public school are obtained from System data. Applicants not currently attending a Baltimore County public school must apply by Tuesday, November 26, 2013, and provide a copy of the current year’s first-quarter/trimester report card when it’s available, but by no later than December 31, 2013.

Middle School
Academic grades and effort marks for four quarters/three trimesters from the previous year’s report card and the first quarter/trimester from the current year’s report card are reviewed in each of five academic areas: Reading, Writing/Language Usage, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science.  Students lose points for each grade of “D” or “E” and each effort mark indicating less than “satisfactory” performance.  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.

High School
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.

  1. What is the magnet assessment? (for middle and high school ONLY)
    Most secondary 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 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)? (for middle and high ONLY)
    The Assessment Guidelines contain specific information regarding the components of each assessment and any preparation required prior to the assessment. 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 middle and 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 the 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 application process.

  2. Do students currently on a wait list for a magnet program get preferential placement in the next application cycle?

    No.  All applicants for the 2014-2015 school year are given equal consideration.  All applicants must qualify for a given program and, if there are fewer seats than qualified applicants, program seats will be filled through a random lottery process.
  1. How are applicants selected for placement in a magnet program?
    If there are fewer qualified applicants than seats available for a magnet program, all qualified applicants are offered placement.  If the number of qualified 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.

  2. Who receives priority placement in magnet programs?
    Child of an Employee – If the primary work site of a BCPS employee is a school with a magnet program and the employee's child applies to, and qualifies for, a magnet program in that school, the child will be given priority placement in the magnet program.

    Kindergarten Sibling Priority Placement - At the elementary level, 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 preferential placement for that program. 

    Note: This sibling priority placement is subject to repeal.  As such, kindergarten priority placements will no longer be granted beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.  
    Secondary School Priority Placement - At the middle and high school level, up to 20% of the available seats in a magnet program will first be filled by qualified applicants who show exceptional commitment and promise in the specialized program as evidenced by performance on the magnet assessment (i.e. students who earn the highest scores on the magnet assessments). 

    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 by early March. The following status categories are possible:
  • Admitted: The applicant qualified for 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 number.
    • Did Not Qualify: The applicant did not meet the minimum stated admission criteria for the program and will not be offered a seat.
    • Disqualified: The applicant did not complete the application process. Applications are considered incomplete if any required materials are not submitted or if the applicant does not attend the required audition/assessment for the magnet program(s) to which he/she applied.  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?
    Parents will need to schedule a registration appointment with the school.  Failure to register in a timely manner may result in forfeiture of the program seat.

    PLEASE NOTE:
    • Enrollment in a magnet program is contingent upon proof of eligibility to attend a Baltimore County public school.
    • 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.
    • 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/).

Admission Process – 2014-2015 Wait List

  1. What does it mean to be on a wait list?
    Magnet programs have a limited number of seats.  When more applicants qualify 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 that your child qualified for the program and, as a result of the lottery process, was not selected for initial placement.  Wait lists for the 2013–2014 school year are maintained until the close of business on Thursday, October 31, 2013.

  2. What does the wait-list number mean?
    The wait-list number indicates your child's position on the wait list.  You will need this 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 Thursday, October 31, 2013.  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 number 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) calendar days in 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.  Unless you inform the Office of Magnet Programs that you want your child to be removed from the list(s), your child will remain on the other wait list(s) until you are offered a seat or until the wait list is no longer active.  If you decline a placement offer for a program, your child will be removed from only 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 a registration appointment with the school.  Failure to register in a timely manner may result in forfeiture of the program seat.

    PLEASE NOTE: 
    • Enrollment in a magnet program is contingent upon proof of eligibility to attend a Baltimore County public school. 
    • The parent is responsible for providing transportation to and from the magnet program if transportation is not provided by Baltimore County Public Schools.
    • 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/).
    • For students with active educational plans (i.e., IEP, 504, ELL), enrollment into any magnet program is contingent upon the school's ability to meet the accommodation requirements as documented in the plan.

  10. What should I do if my child is not offered placement from the wait list by the start of the school year?
    If your child has not been offered placement in a magnet program 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 Thursday, October 31, 2013.  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, qualify, 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.

  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 the period of time necessary to complete any of the following: a stay as a patient in a hospital for an extended period of time; acceptance into a Board approved alternative education program or another exceptional education program; or enrollment in a licensed full-time substance abuse treatment program.
  • 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. Requests which are based on medical, physical, or mental health reasons must be accompanied by documentation from a physician or mental health provider.
  1. Under what circumstances can my child be removed 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)  Students who violate the provisions of Policy 5550: Disruptive Behavior, or Policy 5540: Alcoholic Beverages and Drugs, will be suspended and expelled in accordance with applicable policies and rules. At the end of the expulsion period, the superintendent's designee, in consultation with the area office, may either return the students to the magnet program from which they were expelled or to another appropriate, non-magnet school or program.

    (3)  A student may be withdrawn from a magnet program at the end of the year for any one of the following reasons: 
  • Absence or tardiness in excess of identified standards
  • Multiple suspensions or suspension to the Superintendent's Designee
  • More failing final grades than passing final grades
  • Failure in one or more required magnet courses in a magnet program

    A student who is withdrawn from a magnet program housed in a comprehensive school will be required to attend the student's home school unless an application for Special Permission Transfer to another comprehensive school is filed by the parent and approved in accordance with Policy and Rule 5140.

    Students in danger of being withdrawn from a magnet program will receive written notification of their status in accordance with Section 6 of Rule 5220 entitled STUDENTS: Reporting to Parents. Counseling regarding the propriety of a student's continuation in magnet schools and programs will take place at the end of the school year. Any decision by the principal to withdraw a student from a magnet program because of academic failure in a magnet course must be approved in advance by Supervisor of Magnet Programs, or a designee. 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 have the right to appeal any admission or dismissal decision, but must do so in accordance with 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 Executive Director of Special Programs, within ten (10) calendar days from the date of the notification (decision) letter 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 Executive Director of Special Programs, 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 Executive Director of Special Programs?
    The Executive Director or the Executive 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?
    When an appeal is made to and evaluated by the Executive Director of Special Programs, the parent receives a written decision.  The response will include the basis for the decision.

  5. What If my appeal is denied by the Executive Director of Special Programs?
    Appeals of magnet admissions or dismissal decisions by the Executive Director of Special Programs must be made in writing to the Superintendent within fifteen (15) calendar days of the date of the denial letter from the Executive Director of Special Programs, 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 in depth 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 open house 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 (410) 887-4127.


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