Student Access to Career and Technical Education
This document provides guidance on the applicable statutes and regulations that address student access to career and technical education. Additional information is included as it relates to charter school students, private school students, home-schooled students and foreign students.
Per the Pennsylvania Code, career and technical education shall be made available to every student in the high school program (22 Pa Code § 4.23 (d)(1)). Districts should not limit the attendance of students eligible for admission to a career and technical center (CTC).
Nonparticipating District of a CTC
In compliance with the Pennsylvania Code, if a student attends a district that does not participate in a CTC, the student may, on obtaining consent of the Joint Operating Committee of a CTC (24 P.S. § 18-1847) attend that CTC. The students of a nonparticipating district are not limited to attending the CTC that serves the attendance area in which the district is located. Further, a nonparticipating district cannot mandate that all of its students attend one particular CTC.
As stated in the Pennsylvania School Code, if a student of a nonparticipating district attends a CTC, the district of residence must pay for this education (24 P.S. § 18-1847). The school district in which the pupil resides shall be charged, for each pupil attending the CTC, an amount equal to the total approved budget for current expenses, debt service and capital outlay divided by the number of pupils enrolled in the school.
Participating District of a CTC
Per the Pennsylvania School Code, if a student attends a district that does participate in a CTC, the student must attend the CTC in which the district participates (24 P.S. § 1850.1(b)(21)). Only if the Joint Operating committee were to send a student to another career and technical center, which accepted the student, could a student attend a CTC different from the one in which his or her district is a participating member (24 P.S. § 1850.1(b)(21)).
Charter School Students1
Students enrolled in charter schools, including cyber charter schools, may enroll in CTCs if the charter school in which the child is enrolled contracts with a CTC for the provision of services.
Charter schools, including cyber charter schools, are not party to the negotiated agreements between school districts and CTCs.
It is the responsibility of the charter school to decide whether to make a career and technical school curriculum available to the student and, if so, to contract with a CTC for the provisions of these services. When a student chooses to attend a charter school, the student chooses the charter school’s educational offerings, which may or may not include a career and technical education. A charter school may contract with a CTC to provide a career and technical education option for its students, but a charter school is not required to provide such an option unless it becomes part of a student’s individualized education program. The charter school and the CTC must establish an appropriate charge for charter school students receiving a career and technical education.
If a charter school student does attend a CTC, the charter school shall receive the full Selected Expenditure to which it is entitled from the student’s resident school district, and the charter school must pay the CTC the established contractual charge for a student who receives a career and technical education. A student’s school district of residence shall not be responsible for paying a CTC for the career and technical education received by a charter school student. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has no authority to withhold payments from the charter school in the event there are disputes regarding payments to a career and technical school by a charter school. Such disputes shall be resolved between the charter school and the career and technical school based on the contractual agreement between them.
Pursuant to 24 P.S. § 5-502, “[n]o pupil shall be refused admission to the courses in these additional schools or departments, by reason of the fact that his elementary or academic education is being or has been received in a school other than a public school.” This provision expressly allows students attending nonpublic schools to dually-enroll in both the nonpublic school and the public school in order to participate in programs offered at vocational schools.
Homeschooled students do not have the right to participate in a career and technical education program via dual enrollment. A school district may allow a homeschooled student to do so, however, based upon district policy. If the district policy does allow a homeschool student to participate in a career and technical education program via dual enrollment, the school district of residence would be required to pay for the student’s participation in the career and technical education program.
Career and technical centers must register with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program to be authorized to enroll foreign students. If the CTC is eligible to accept students on F-1 visas, the student must pay the tuition to attend the career and technology center. The tuition would be the full, unsubsidized per capita cost of the education.
1For additional information, see the applicable Basic Education Circular, Charter Schools, which can be found at: Basic Education Circular: Charter Schools.
2For additional information, see the applicable Basic Education Circular, Foreign Students’ Eligibility for Enrollment, which can be found at: Basic Education Circular Foreign Students' Eligibility for Enrollment