Tuesday, May 27

Pre-K letters out; problems apparent already


In keeping with its grand tradition of finding a long weekend during which to mail important letters to parents, the DOE let loose Pre-K admissions decisions at the end of last week. Already, the Insideschools forum is abuzz with discussion of the process. A couple of disappointed parents lament not getting into their top-choice programs or into any program at all.

Other parents describe what we can only hope are problems with the admissions process, the management of which was outsourced to an out-of-state provider. A couple of parents describe receiving rejection letters even though they live in the zone of a school with a large Pre-K program — and who have older children already enrolled in that school! (This year's new rules, finalized midway through the application process, give siblings preference for admission over all other applicants.) Either there are far, far more zoned siblings applying for Pre-K than anyone could ever have imagined, or else the DOE has some cleaning up to do.

If you applied for Pre-K for the fall, we welcome more information about your letter — and we hope your news was good!

Update: A DOE spokesman wrote to me to clarify concerns about the admissions process being outsourced. Parents mailed their applications to Pennsylvania for data entry, he wrote, but the actual applicant-to-program matches were made in-house at OSEPO.

27 comments:

Frustrated parent in Brooklyn said...

My daughter was not admitted to our zoned school for pre-K, or to any of the other schools we listed on the centralized application.

So far, NONE of our neighbors were given a seat either - including one family with a SIBLING already attending the school.

Our letter was vague about how to move forward and did not include a wait list number or anything. So, our biggest question is this: if the DOE picked the "winners" via lottery, why wasn't a waiting list established via lottery? Surely the DOE has accounted for attrition on the initial list?!?

How are the unfilled seats going to be assigned??? Do parents have to camp out in front of the borough enrollment offices the night of June 22? Do we duke it out with our neighbors?

We are quite willing to follow the rules but when the rules keep changing and produce outcomes that don't appear to be fair and equitable, how are parents supposed to deal with it?

Signed, Frustrated parent in Brooklyn

Anonymous said...

I think we may have a huge scandal on our hands. My twins applied to my older daughter's school, a school where there was no way 4 classes were filled w/ other sibs & so far one of my twins has rejected & haven't heard re other.

From what other parents are saying & from the fact that the 10 different DOE people I emailed over wknd have responded (& some are pretty good at responding) & fact that OSEPO phones are totally busy makes me think maybe the computers in Pennsylvania forgot to add in the sibling preference! Only thing that makes sense so far.

Anybody no who actually can tell me what is going on? Thx!

Anonymous said...

another thing that is troubling is that the schools are still in the dark. I was at my child's school this morning trying to find out why his sister's PreK application was rejected..... they have simply not been informed by the DOE as to what is happening and what to do next. They did not even know, until I read it to them from the application, the list of priorities that the DOE was supposedly using.

Anonymous said...

All schools will be notified today who was accepted. I have spoke to a number of DOE employees today & it is clear there was a HUGE error & thus all the rejected siblings.

Anonymous said...

How does the DOE propose to rectify this or are they even going to try? Were students who don't have siblings at schools given slots that should have otherwise gone to the younger siblings?

Ever feel like you've been cheated? said...

My daughter was also not given a seat in our zoned school or another but what really pisses me off is I heard this weekend that another family who lied about their address DID get a seat in our zoned school. We looked for an apt in the zone for months and moved in just in time for the lottery only to hear this. I'm so angry. So much for playing by the rules.

Anonymous said...

my daughter who is in the zone has not been accepted. there is no waiting list, the school is in the complete dark. we just purchased an apt to be in the zone and this is a huge issue. also, school said that application process will be the same for next year in kindergarten and no guarantee to be placed in the zone. this cannot go on.

Celeste Peterka said...

The selection criteria have NOT been followed. We are zoned for our school and have a child already enrolled. With four full-time classes, there's no way other siblings filled all the chairs. Get ready folks, because those of us whose babies were rejected from their siblings' schools in TOTAL contradiction to the placement criteria are about to have the entire submissions decision invalidated and rescinded. Just more proof that computers only make good decisions based on good programming. Somebody screwed up, and my daughter is NOT going to pay the price.

Ginger said...

Celeste-

I am in same situation & central OSEPO is looking into my case - I will post when I hear back. I live in Brooklyn & the others I know in same situation live in D 13 & D 15 in Brooklyn. Where do you live? I am trying to figure out pattern as is DOE & reporter I have been talking to at D. News.

Anonymous said...

My advice: Having three kids, 8th Grade, 6th Grade and 4th Grade:

If you can afford it: PAY and put the kid thru a private Pre-K program.

NYC DOE doesn't have enough seats to go around. In my District: 3000 kids per grade level: less than 1000 Pre-K seats: split between morning/afternoon (only 2.5 hour).

Anonymous said...

We haven't even gotten our DOE letter yet... we are still expecting to be admitted to our zoned Pre-K program based on the sibling policy... but that said: We know two families whose children were rejected who should have been admitted (based on the sibling policy).

We have been reading the blog on ParkSlopeParents.org - it seems like there are an excessive number of false rejections.

This whole process has had us worried from the beginning.

For example, why fill out a form for a "zoned" school when you don't even have to indicate what zone you are in on the form?

Or why is the only option for submitting the application a form you hand write and then send to a PO Box in Pennsylvania... rather than offer an automated option to submit the application online (and be sure that your information was processed correctly)?

Whatever. We feel for all the families who got caught by this error-filled process... and we just hope that we are not one of those families...

Anonymous said...

Has anyone still not received a letter at all? We're in District 3 and zoned to PS 180, which we put first (not exactly a desirable school). Haven't gotten a letter!

Anonymous said...

Could you write back to the DOE spokesperson and tell them that that isn't much of an update. We don't care where the applications were processed. We just want to know why we haven't heard about any acceptances yet, if the letters were supposedly mailed last week. I wrote to the contact on the DOE site and she just referred me back to the webpage where it says that letters were mailed. Are they blaming this on the postal service? Did the USPS sort out only rejection letters and are sitting on all the acceptances?

Anonymous said...

I live in Queens, District 25, and have not received a letter either! I am horrified to read what is occurring and was also highly suspicious about the process. In addition to the PA P.O. Box, I have yet to be given a justification for the process e.g. why centralize enrollment, or the expense e.g. why DOE chose to out-source enrollment when they have an existing infrastructure enrollment offices and schools who are fully and in the best position to handle this work.

Anonymous said...

I received from Anne Wolf, Acting Director of early Childhood Education the following email this morning ..."Letters were mailed on Friday and parents are continuing to receive notification." I too have not received my letter (guessing that's a good thing)

Anonymous said...

The notification process appears very similar to G&T notification....rejections mailed prior to acceptances with a whole lot of chaos. Absolutely nuts.

Bronx_shrink said...

I am also a parent whose child was not accepted at her brother's school. She was also not accepted at 2 other unzoned pre-k programs. I think that while the intentions behind this centralized application were good, it has clearly brought disastrous results, breeding suspicions and a sense of having been wronged. While I was disappointed about not getting a spot at the unzoned schools, at least I understood that the staff at those schools used a thoughtful and meaningful process and I was able to know why she wasn't accepted (e.g. too many incoming siblings). However, how do I make sense of her not getting in with sibling preference when the principal of the school cannot even explain it? As a parent with no zoned pre-k class, the only way in which we had a shot anywhere was with sibling preference. Basically, I just need to know that this was done fairly and properly with no computer error. For the future Mr. Klein, consider giving control back to the principals. There must be other ways to facilitate the application process while making it equitable and clear.

Anonymous said...

@bronx_shrink:

The stated preference order was:

* zoned w/ siblings
* zoned w/o siblings
* unzoned w/ siblings
* unzoned w/o siblings

If the pre-K filled up entirely with zoned students (I don't know the situation at your school, but this is a common situation elsewhere), then your child was not erroneously excluded. If it accepted any unzoned kids with NO siblings, then she was excluded in error.

Once your school has the list of students, they should at least be able to tell you whether any unzoned kids made it in.

Philissa said...

2:14 p.m.: The priority order you describe is what the DOE originally proposed. But in the policy as it was finalized, siblings trump all. So unzoned kids with siblings should actually be accepted over zoned kids without, if it came to that.

concerned mom said...

Something must've gone wrong in the process or it is totally unfair. My son is zoned for PS 158 in district 2 and we received a rejection letter on Saturday for all our choices. I can't believe that we live right opposite a school and cannot get in, but kids from other Boroughs who have siblings attending the school have gotten!! Completely unfair!

Anonymous said...

Concerned Mom I agree with you completely, and coming from an area that has seen alot of turmoil over our schools (Williamsburg) in recent years I couldn't agree more. I am sick and tired of being pushed out of my zoned school simply because someone from a different area wishes to go there. These are little children why are you even trapsing them through boroughs for a very standardized education?!

Bronx_shrink said...

To anonymous who wrote: "These are little children why are you even trapsing them through boroughs for a very standardized education?!"

I live in the Bronx, district 10 and do not have a zoned pre-k class. My 3rd grader son is in the G&T program in a district 3 school in the Columbia U. area. Do you really think I prefer the lengthy morning and evening commute it takes to get him there? Do you really believe that I would have capriciously placed my pre-k daughter at the same school just because? How naive of you. The school for which I am zoned is abysmal. Do you honestly think that all the public schools are equal? Try visiting some outside of your neighborhood, come up to district 9 or 10 in the Bronx or district 5 or 6 in Manhattan. Also, FYI, in my son's dual language G&T class, it has been out of district kids who have sustained the program because many parents in the district didn't value a dual language program. His grade's G&T class would have ceased to exist if not for us borough-hopping parents.

Anonymous said...

As a graduate of a gifted and talented program myself and as a mother who has elected not to send her child to out of district g&t programs, may I ask what kind of pressure you think you are putting on your child at 8 or 9 years of age by this commute? Education is wonderful but when normalcy goes out the door one should worry.

Bronx_shrink said...

I am also a G&T graduate and believe that my mother's decision to send me to a school far across town turned out to be the best educational decision she made for me. For my son, I would have happily kept him in our home neighborhood and did try to keep him within our district. Unfortunately, as I noted, our neighborhood school is really subpar. I won't elaborate here but I know my neighborhood, I know the level of gang activity, I know more than most because of my work experiences with NYC's children's services and from working in multiple public schools as a psychologist. It was not an easy decision to go out of district as I often wonder whether such schools might improve if more families such as mine enrolled their children in the zoned school. However, I refused not make my son a guinea pig to see if that theory holds true. If there is a better option, why not take it?

duniabest said...

Lower Manhattan here,

I've only heard about responses from Bklyn and Queens so far and all rejects. Anyone hear from anywhere else? Is there a website/phone number we can reach?

Anonymous said...

We got in to our zoned pre-k, no older sibling. Extremely grateful. Thought I would post some good news (BTW me and another zoned parent only heard last night about the acceptance).

roxy19757 said...

I am just another frustrated Brooklyn parent who has not yet received any acceptance/rejection letter in the mail. I've made a couple of phone calls, left messages (no response yet), I've emailed people from Student Enrollment and replied to me that letters were mailed out May 23, and another e-mail routing me back to their website. I am very frustrated! what now? I was also confused that the applications were sent to Pennsylvania... what do they have to with NYC DOE?