Wednesday, June 4

Questions and a Few Answers

Lots of questions waiting for answers from the DOE, but in the meanwhile, here's some feedback on specifics that have come in via comments. (Thanks as ever for posting, and for voicing questions shared by scores of city parents.)

One parent asked about out-of-zone kids getting pre-K seats while her child wasn't seated at their zoned school. You can try to appeal the decision, but chances are, no one will officially tell you how the decision to exclude your child and include another was made. The party line is that no out-of-zone kids were offered seats unless in-zone kids were all covered; this may give you some basis for an appeal, but unfortunately, nothing's certain.

Bronx shrink, I checked the pre-K application again, and checked in with the DOE. The application does stipulate that the older sibling be continuing in elementary school -- but it doesn't say 'boo' about ranking the big-sib's school as a first choice. Waiting for official word back on this, and will report more when it's known.

Dr Monty asked about appealing middle school placement. Last year, a few districts offered appeals (details here); D 15 does, but D 21 and 22 do not. Brutal, I know. Insult to injury, the deadline last year for appeals was May 25th, well ahead of first-round news for most parents this year. Try contacting parent coordinators at the school/s in question to see if any informal process exists. Sometimes a bit of relationship-building can go a long way.

Keep the questions flowing.


Anonymous said...

Who at DOE is saying this: "The party line is that no out-of-zone kids were offered seats unless in-zone kids were all covered?" They need to check the lists for PS9 & PS282 in District 13. The parents were at the press conf today. Do the parents in this bind need to spell out the names of the out of zone/district kids that they know got the spots?

Again, pitting parents against parents!

helen said...

The DOE officials at the press conference today said, in response to questions after Gotbaum and deBlasio spoke, that this was the policy -- I asked Andy Jacob directly and that's what he said to me. I countered that that's not what happened; that's when he said people should contact OSEPO (see my post this afternoon, after the conference). This isn't parents vs. parents; it's parents vs. a truculent, cumbersome DOE.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Helen. What a shame - it appears we will indeed need to "name names" ie. identify those families from out-of-zone or out-of-district, who were given slots at our schools where our in-zone kids missed out.

If the DOE is not willing to acknowledge this has occured - and there were FOUR families at the press conference today who have incontravertable knowledge of this happening (including names and addresses of the out-of-zone / out-of-district families) - then this is what we will have to do to try to achieve a fair and equitable outcome.

So, unfortunately, it does end up pitting parent against parent, because in the end, we have to ask the DOE to rescind offers that were sent out in error - which ultimately could hurt other families who already believe they have pre-K spots for their kids.

So be it - no need to say that it should not have come to this.

Anonymous said...

But what are the schools to do now? Ask people to hand over their spots so that a kid with a sibling can go? Does that seem fair if the kid is in zone or if the family followed the rules and that is the botched decision the DOE made? There are NOT enough spots. Every year families are turned away in all the popular zones and need to scramble for the fall. Someone is going to get left out as they do every year.

sosps said...

If someone lives in a district with middle school "choice" and his/her child has been placed in a bad school not on his/her list of choices, and the appeals process doesn't work (or there isn't one), could one move to a district with no middle school choice and simply move into the zone for a halfway decent middle school and register? Is this actually possible? This might be easier than moving to LI or Westchester or NJ, which at this point could otherwise be the only remaining option for some of us (and not what we want).

Ginger said...

Please! This is not just about siblings -- that is just the most blatant, uncontestable ex. as they had priority.

While it seems silly to me to pay $ for an inquiry, I am concerned that the DOE is the keeper of the information and they are not forthcoming (they can use whatever numbers they want to divulge publicly).

So far, they don't even seem to feel any accountability to Gotbaum, de Blasio, or the media! While I know de Blasio is spearheading this I feel those affected must reach out to their respective Councilmembers.

We will need these Checks & Balances in the yrs to come. Bloomberg & Klein need to be accountable!

Anonymous said...

Is it because out-of-zone parents faked an address or is it because the out-of-zone addresses were picked before in-zone? I know it's a prickly subject and the faking of addresses is a pretty widely accepted way of getting into a desirable school or at least avoiding a less-desirable school. It seems to me, however, it's gotten out of control. I think that DOE is cumbersome and has made poor choices, no doubt. They should never have outsourced the application procedure. But I also think it can't be the only "bad guy" in this scenario.

Anonymous said...

I had the same question as 8:23. If the out-of-zone parents were forthcoming about getting their acceptance, I would assume that they did not lie about their addresses. But this thread raises a question that I have about whether and how frequently cheaters using fake addresses to get into a coveted school they're not zoned for get reported to the school. I personally know a family who is doing this, planning to register their son at our zoned school (they don't live in the zone). I don't think I have it in me to report them and interfere with their son's education in that manner. Yet, it's disturbing to see it happening (and our zoned school is already overcrowded). What do people actually do in this situation to report it, or do most people just let it go?

Anonymous said...

"the faking of addresses is a pretty widely accepted way of getting into a desirable school or at least avoiding a less-desirable school"

Really? I don't know of anyone who accepts fraud from their friends and neighbors who try to grab assets to which they are not entitled. That sort of dishonesty and greed is not to be tolerated much less "widely accepted". If you or anyone you know has knowledge of such fraudulent thefts of resources you should report it immediately!!

What on earth are people teaching their children? Should the kids then lie about where they live to their teachers and classmates? Stop and think, folks. Do you really want to start right off with lying, cheating, and stealing as the first lessons your child associates with school?

The ones who behave in that manner and ALL of those who protect their actions are most certainly "bad guys" raising their children to be more of the same.


Anonymous said...

I happen to be a parent of twins that got assignment in an in district, but out of zone school. The assignment was my 5th choice.
There was no faking of addresses.

Anonymous said...

Registration at the school will weed out families who applied to a school outside their zone -- it really isn't easy to fake that because they need to provide proof of residency with a specific government document AND utility bill dated within 60 days of registration to complete the process. If the schools affected are aware of zoned children being rejected, they can be more wary during the registration phase to weed out the mistakes. Thus, those slots will become available for the June 23 re-application process.

Regarding sibling: I find it hard to believe the problem affected only 200 families. Our school alone had 3 sibling families rejected with only 18 slots available. We are trying to get the powers that be at the DOE to allow our school to switch to two 1/2 day programs so that we can accommodate 36 children next year. We've always done that in the past, but last year we moved to full days because we had a second classroom available. Next year we're losing the 2nd classroom but so far the DOE has refused our request to switch back to the 1/2 programs. Better for our community for 36 children to get 1/2 day than 18 to get full. Parents have sent letter, our PA has sent letters, our Principal has tried to contact powers that be on the phone --- and none of us have gotten a response yet.


Anonymous said...

It is not up to you to decide that the rules should be bent for people you know so as not to 'interfere' with their children's education. The family that you do not know that is shut out of the seat occupied by the cheating family is being robbed. Do you think that it's OK to say, "Well I know that purse snatcher and I don't want to interfere with her getting the money she's stealing so I'll look the other way." Seriously, if you know someone is committing a crime it is your obligation as a member of a civil society to report them to the authorities.

Anonymous said...

I'm 8:23

I've always thought it was fraudulent. I never allow anyone to use my address. It is widely accepted, though. Not only in NYC but in California. Probably reporters/news editors employ this technique, which is why it's never discussed fully.

Anonymous said...

About cheating, fraud, etc:

At the moment, I don't live in a particularly desirable zone. However, I was lucky and legitimately got my child into a lottery school.

Before I had children, though, I lived in a very desirable zone. More than one parent back then asked if they could use my address.

I was EXTREMELY uneasy about this at the time. Now, however, I am less sure that this is so terrible. ALL New Yorkers should have access to quality schools. It should not depend on whether you had the good fortune or big bucks to move into a "nice" neighborhood.

I was so hopeful that mayoral control would be a key step to moving towards this goal of better schools overall. Sadly, the regime's focus on high-stakes testing, its disregard for class size, its constant reorganizing (clearly ill thought out, as made clear by this preK debacle)--oh, I'm making myself depressed!

Anonymous said...

I know that in the past people have used faked addresses. That's because they used to accept a lot of different forms of ID for an address, and some of those were easier to get without proof. Now, it is NOT easy. I just moved from D6 to D3, and I had to change my address with the DOE in person and through the UPK my daughter attends. There are VERY few forms of acceptable address anymore--either a Con Ed bill with your name on it, or a combination of 2 like a signed & executed lease plus a pre-printed pay stub. No more driver's license, other bills, etc. Believe me, it's tough enough to provide proof when you actually live there, let alone when you don't.

Anonymous said...

At our school they are just going ahead & registering kids out of district, while sibs and zoned kids continue to not have a spot.

Was told by school they answered to Chancellor, not parents! Where is the f**'g Chancellor? In a bunker?

Anonymous said...

This is so NOT about cheaters -- that is a separate issue, which the DOE is trying to crack down on. Read the new proof of address regs in the long Memo that came out this winter. Forget # -- A-101? -- It is worth a read.

Anonymous said...

A lot of this discussion has been about fairness.... I actually fully agree this the idea behind the new placement process. I, as a out-of-zone parent with sibling preference, got my son into school with his older brother. Until this process I was resigned to a two school drop off next year. This preference BUILDS COMMUNITY AND NEIGHBORHOOD (directed especially at my union head Randi W).

Did a lot of parents get the shaft so to speak in the preference system,damn straight. Were mistakes made, absolutely. Can these be fixed I hope so for the sake of all those who expected preference and for the sake of the school communities were these families wanted to be part of.
That all said, I still have problems with some of the complaints about the system. If an out of zone child picked your zoned school as his first choice and you didn't, hey tough luck. If you didn't put your sibling school as your first choice and was hoping for a better choice again you need to live with that. You can not expect to get the preference if you don't make it your first choice. I've posted this before "YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS".
One solution to the address issue especially the sibling address issue is for parents to make sure the address the schools ATS system has on file is the correct one.

D15parent said...

Re: middle school. I just read on another blog (OTBKB) that schools are being told by Tweed not to share the list of middle school placements until the letter are mailed. This is outrageous. And even though my child's school gave out the placements and I received a letter directly from child's new middle school I am still angry about this whole process. It is now 6/4 and I still have not received any official letter from the DOE.

Anonymous said...

Re: middle school also. In our class, 1 parent with a kid already at Upper Lab was able to get the list of kids accepted from our school. She told the class that she would tell them if they got into Lab, but only if their parents talked to her directly. How is the system so screwed up that those "in the know" have access to information that is really none of their business, while everyone else has to suffer it out for results that should have been released weeks ago?

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear about this sibling rejection problem. I know the DOE is trying to say parent errors on the applications are the cause of the problem, but that addresses only some of the rejections. My friend was rejected because data entry at central processing mis-spelled the name of her street by one letter. Since the computer couldn't match the street name with her child who's already in the school, her son was rejected.


D15parent said...

I still have not received my middle school letter from DOE. The guidance counselor gave us the information. How are we suppose to adhere to the June 12th date without official notification?

I'm surprised I'm not reading/sensing more outrage over this new middle school process. THe kids are the ones, in the end, who will be hurt by the DOE's actions.

jennem said...

How does having 2 kids in the same out-of-zone school "build community and neighborhood?" These kids are going home elsewhere every day. You "build community and neighborhood" by attending your zoned school and working hard to make it, and the surrounding community, a better place. There is NOTHING wrong with attending an out-of-zone school, but it's the opposite of community-building.

Anonymous said...

It is not the opposite of community building.. a school is a Mark Twain, a middle school that draws from all over Brooklyn, not a community, is Brooklyn Tech, a specialized nigh school that draws from all over the city not a community. We create the communities we wish to be may have a community/neighborhood school but one can wish to be part of another school community and that is exactly what the sibling preference offered

Anonymous said...

This is addressed to 10:46 -- I am the 9:22 poster and I want to make perfectly clear that I am very uncomfortable and disturbed by what appears to me to be cheating by this one family I know to get into our zoned school. Just because I happen to have this information (and there's always a possibility that I could be wrong) does not mean that I think the rules should be bent for cheaters. I don't know how you reached that conclusion. I am also not certain that it is my obligation to report them. I don't know what the right answer is. I know people who cheat on their taxes, but I don't report them to the IRS either. Your anger against me is misplaced and more properly directed to the cheaters themselves.

audra said...

re: idea of community building, well stated anon 1:30pm.
we have worked tirelessly at our out of zone school for the past 4 years-- active PTA members, volunteer reading, donations of time, money and creativity.
do not stoop so low as to redefine community, jennem.
community is built by people, not geography.
do you presume to discount the efforts of those who actively seek a better opportunity for their children and have to work really hard to get it?-- including traveling to suitable schools? we do not just "go home to another neighborhood" each night.
we stick around, for school events, meetings, and fund-raisers. we actively contribute to our schools--then we go home to our neighborhoods, satisfied that we have done all we can to make our chosen schools viable and functioning.
sibling preference gave parents the means and opportunity, and time, to continue to have positive impact in their schools. we count! we care! we contribute! and we will keep the pressure on!

Anonymous said...

what does randi w think about sibling preference?

I'm scared about the attack on siblings. We moved six blocks away from the school where our 2nd grader lives (not by choice - we were rented kicked out for condo convestion.) So its not like this is really out of the neighborhood! Its a quirk of small school zones! We didn't get into our sib's school due to the snafu (we have confirmed everything about our application was correct) but I'm more worried that the sibling preference could be modified next year when the DOE takes over the K admissions. Then we'd be REALLY bummed. So I'm curious what the teachers union thinks about all this....

Anonymous said...


what if you worked that hard at your neighborhood school instead? wouldn't that be real community in every way? wouldn't that high degree of effort effect some change where it is needed most? there are an equal number of people here complaining about being locked out of zoned schools, and people complaining about being locked out of sib schools. what should take priority? sibs or zoning? why? the reason that so many "bad" schools are "bad" is due to the lack of parent involvement. because the involved types of parents just go elsewhere. don't get too high and mighty without realizing that you are dissing your neighbors you live with, when you do that. i'm proud to send my kids to, and work with, a neighborhood school that might not be the "best" but is an integral part of the community i live in. too many kids are on the trains this way, that way, every day, because their parents can't be bothered to work with and for the school right across the street. they'd rather play the system and go elsewhere and then scream "community."

Anonymous said...

Wow I wonder what would happen if the people who work so tirelessly at their out of zone schools gave even half that effort to their zoned schools. That's what people HAVE to do in the suburbs, where you don't get a choice. And it tends to work wonders. NYC's weird system winds up making some schools super good, some schools super bad, because all the hard-working parents flock to one and ignore the others. I know there's no simple solution, but there was a great piece on NPR last month about staying with and working with your neighborhood school. This was in LA, but still it resonates here. If the DOE said "zoned schools only," I wonder how the "quality" of the different schools would play out in a few years time.

Anonymous said...

The "attack on siblings" seems far over the top. A cursory look at political press releases reveals that rhetorically and otherwise, sibling households have found great advocacy in this issue.

Bronx_shrink said...

Helen- when all this admissions business is settled, I would love to see a piece about how parents can improve their neighborhood schools. I think the discussion about staying in-zone and improving not so great schools is very interesting and worth it's own blog discussion.

My family lives in a neighborhood with a mix of middle class, working class and "straight-up poor" families. There's a great deal of gang activity, fractured families and urban decay. Most of the families who can afford it go with parochial schools nearby. I explored our zoned school for my oldest child some years ago and decided that it was just too risky. But I wonder, how would the school be different if more families like mine invested in the school ("like mine" meaning invested in and expecting high quality, violence-free education).

I would like to hear from parents who have perhaps successfully helped turn around struggling schools. I am less hopeful now that I will be able to get my younger child into an out-of-zone school, so I need to begin figuring out how to make it work in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

If you have more than one child, I think most would agree the sibling preference policy is a blessing and relief. Not only does it make a family's life easier to manage, but the effort a parent can invest in one location multiplies, while dividing effort between 2 schools generally cuts the potential investment by more than half.

I know from experience.

If this were my first child entering the public school system, I can imagine I might be frustrated by the sibling preference because I wouldn't have the 1st hand knowledge of it's value to multiple child homes. If the local school can't accommodate every zoned child for pre-k, then it is absolutely reasonable to set sibling priority. The families that don't get in, though truly unfortunate, can send their child to whatever alternative is in the neighborhood -- but they're still only dealing with one school. And they will get in without question as of the mandated first grade (though why kindergarten isn't mandated is beyond me).

It isn't ideal, but it is reasonable in our overcrowded system.

audra said...

liz-not sure what you mean by "play the system". when we were invited by the then principal to register at our school, it was not exactly on the top 5 list-- at the time. that is why the principal went out of her way to allow variances and actively sought progressive parents/families. if our zoned school was making those efforts then, we would have gladly stayed closer to home, as it is a major sacrifice of time. i agree with you that our efforts could be expended at our own school. but the odds are too great. i cannot allow my children to be guinea pigs in a social attempt to improve a failing school. i work, my husband works--there are not enough hours in the day to do all we would like to do. it would be great if we could collectively improve our neighborhood schools--but i am not sure how you can fix this, and not sure that it is my job to fix it. as i said, our school was not the desired place it is now four years ago. but the principal had vision and ideas and sought out families to help her make it happen.
we were fortunate, but it was not utopia then, or now.