Tuesday, June 3

Pre-K Application Review: Home Stretch

Incredible as it seems, we've had some follow-up from the DOE on pre-K sibling applications.

The DOE has reviewed "about 9,000 sibling applications by hand, " according to Andy Jacob, and found "issues we might need to address" in about 200, some of which are still under review. Some scenarios are clear, as when one twin was sent to one school and another twin to another school. "That's a mistake on our end, and we will address it," says Jacob. Address matching issues persist, as do some questions about sibling verification (when sibling ID numbers were incomplete on the application, for example). And he says some parents thought the sibling preference pertained even when the older sib was graduating, or when the big-sib's school wasn't listed first -- no dice.

Jacobs' bottom line: "In any of these cases, where we are able to verify a sibling that meets the criteria we set, we will contact the parents directly to work out a suitable placement." Read those tea leaves for a mixed message: A younger sibling will get a pre-K seat, but 'suitable placement' doesn't really guarantee that seat will be at the same school.

It's worth noting that of 20,000 pre-K applications submitted, 17,000 children were offered seats, 15,000 at their first-choice schools. The DOE's count of 200 possible sibling errors works out to 1%, which doesn't sound so extreme in the abstract -- unless and until it's your kid. And it's cold comfort to the 3,000 families whose applications were denied altogether.

Waiting for deadline info on second-round applications; a slight bit of good news is that parents will receive application materials by mail, if they don't want to trek to the OSEPO offices -- but after the ongoing postal misadventures, a little snail-mail wariness is fully understandable.

good night -


Fiona Noyes said...

Thanks for this Helen - have you received any comment on when / how the DOE will be processing issues other than those involving siblings?

My son did not get into our in-Zone pre-K program (PS9 - our first choice) - and yet I have friends who are not only out-of-zone, but out-of-District, whose kids (3) have been granted a place at PS9.

I won't go on about how wrong and unfair this is. . . . we all know it is . . . . but if you (or anyone) has had any feedback direct from the DOE on how / when they will review these types of issues, any update would be appreciated.


Bronx_shrink said...

I thinks it's BS that the DOE is adding retro-stipulations to qualifying for sibling preference. With all due respect Mr. Jacob: Read the application instructions as the DOE printed them. Nowhere does it say the sib's school must be ranked first or that the sib can't be graduating! I no longer have a stake in this, but I can't stand bureaucratic nonsense! Will no one call him on this?!?

helen said...

I've just reached out to Andy on the two questions above. More news as it's known.

Anonymous said...

I think it makes perfect sense. If the sibling prefrence rule was for parent convenience, then it doesn't matter where your little one goes because you will still be going to 2 schools (an elementary and a middle). As far as making it your first choice I think that's a given too. If it's so important to keep your kids together, then wouldn't it be your first choice? The rules were created so as not to split up sibs, not so we could get over on the system and get out of our not so great districts.

Bronx_shrink said...

It initially seems intuitive but it really is not. What happened in my case was that my initial wish was to send my daughter to her brother's school. However, the DOE originally wrote that siblings who were coming from out of borough would be in the lowest priority group. This was before they changed to the all-sibs-get-preference policy. Because of this, I started exploring other options and applied to two unzoned, selective pre-k programs in schools near my older child's school. I fell in love with them and even considered moving my older child, if my daughter had been accepted at one. (Ironically, one school had space for my older child, but no space in pre-k!) Those selective programs happened to be listed on the UPK list (they shouldn't have been because they do their own admissions process) so I ranked them first and second. If the DOE had their act together from the beginning and said that siblings had preference regardless of zoning, I never would have even looked at another school! Our commute is crazy and stressful and I desperately wanted to keep them if not together, then closer to each other than they are now. FYI, though we live in the Bx, both parents work in Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

Bronx_shrink....The applications clearly said that you child must be in the school next year to claim sibling preference. And as for expecting that preference if the sibling school was not your first choice..Well you can not have it both ways..you can not expect to be waiting on a more selective school and have your sibling preference as a fall back. You either claim it or you don't. And the DOE actually does in the final application process state that SIBLING ZONED OR OTHERWISE WILL HAVE PREFERENCE. You should have read the application material more clearly. You can also refer back to all the strands last week where Philissa made that very clear.

Bronx_shrink said...

To anonymous- perhaps you need to read my posts more clearly. My son will be in his school next year as a 4th grader. My daughter therefore should have had sibling preference at his school. He has not been discharged from the school. The only reason to move him would have been to keep the two of them in the same school. It is exactly what you quoted that was MY argument. At any rate, it no longer matters because all of the seats went to other siblings, which is fine, because at least the process worked at that school! What I wish is that it would have worked properly for all the families or that there were plentiful pre-k seats so that no families had to be disappointed. And this was not about fall back schools. This was about availing myself to the options that were presented to me. A zoned pre-k class was NOT one of them but a sibling's school and unzoned schools were. Where's my crime?

Anonymous said...

Bronx Shrink, I hope you're really not a "shrink" you seem so combative and argumentative. Sometimes in life we have to realize when things are out of our hands. Also, why would you not put any other choices, say of nearby schools? There was room for five choices I believe.

Bronx_shrink said...

I agree, I am argumentative. I can own that! But with this I think I have good reason. I feel like some are missing the point. Why turn on a concerned parent when I am not the enemy? Especially when I have not taken a seat that "belonged" to anyone else. If someone posts something about something I have written that seems unfair or plain wrong, I want to correct that.

As for not listing more spots, we ranked what made sense. Our neighborhood school does not have pre-k and even if it did, it would have been an impractical choice given parents working in Manhattan and another child in a Manhattan school. I only ranked schools that we could have actually sent our daughter to (in terms of commute) and that she actually might have had a shot at. Common sense. But I am okay with legitimately not getting a seat. I am not okay with lies and mistakes by the DOE.

P.S. Why shouldn't I be a "shrink"? They think critically and argue just like any analytical person might. (p.s. this is a rhetorical Q- I don't want to hijack this thread with a personal aside! Or contact me privately.)