admissions · DOE Fails · Finding the Right School · School Choice · screened nyc schools

Zero Transparency & Communication: NYC Mom Rages Against New Middle School Waitlist

(The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.)

Based on my recent experience with the middle school admission process, I can say that there are many issues with the new system. 

First of all, removing the appeals process makes things worse and quite difficult. For example, my kid got a surprisingly low score on her talent test. It’s not impossible, of course, but it’s quite unlikely. 

Because the appeals process is canceled, there is no official way to leave a complaint or make them re-check her work. I’ve been bounced between The Department of Education (MS Enrollment), and the school which conducted the test (Mark Twain). 

MS Enrollment says that it’s up to Mark Twain to re-check the work. Mark Twain, based on the principal’s letter I got, says that it’s up to MS Enrollment to decide what the process will be!

The bottom line — based on the answers from MS Enrollment and Mark Twain — is that I will be allowed to see her test somewhere in the late summer. How will me seeing the work help? They also said that it will be reviewed by “proper staff.” What does “proper staff” mean?  I asked the principal to confirm that these will be experts who can actually review the work. I never got a confirmation or even an email back. 

I also don’t have any guarantee that they will not forget about me by late summer, since there is no appeal/complaint number, and there is no way to obtain such. In total, this process took over a month: MS Enrollment usually answers within two weeks. Principals and school staff answer in about two days – or not at all.  The information the DOE can give by phone is the same as we see on the website, so it’s pointless even to call… 

Now, the thing they replaced the appeal with, the waitlist, is a good idea, but not functional at all, unfortunately. 

It was my mistake: I didn’t rank my kid’s second talent for both Mark Twain and Bay Academy. I put one talent to Bay and the second to Twain. This was based on my confusion with the application system.

Schools tell you it’s very important where you put them on the list, while the DOE says it doesn’t matter, only the score matters. Which one is it??? I wanted to have a shot at both schools. As a result, she is #1 on Bay Academy’s waitlist with her second talent, except nobody, including the Waitlist department, can say if there is a chance to get in at all. No one at Bay Academy, principal or staff, replied to my emails. 

Based on my communication with Waitlist, the only way to free a spot in those precious selective schools is if the parents contact the school via a school guidance counselor. One of the kids from my daughter’s class, who was accepted to Bay Academy with the same talent, might not attend Bay Academy at all. The parents are still deciding between a private school and Bay Academy, but due to the COVID situation, are not sure how it will go and they might decide closer to September. 

The deadline for a waitlist offer is July 24th! What the waitlist people do not realize is that there is an option for a kid to have 2 middle school offers at the same time – one provided by the DOE and another from a private school. Why would those parents even bother to contact anybody to free up space in a public school if they can keep both offers till September? What will happen with this spot if their kid does not attend, if the final deadline for the waitlist offer is the end of July?

I heard that each year the DOE gives extra seats to the schools in case some kid(s) don’t show up in September. But the schools fill these seats at the very beginning of the admissions season, instead. A DOE representative told me that even if a seat frees up now, there is no guarantee the school will pay attention to the waitlist because they already have the extra seats filled. 

So, what is the point of this waitlist? 

It would make sense if the DOE would allocate extra seats after the first round of admissions so the schools could choose kids from the waitlist to fill these extra seats. But, as it is designed now – with a July deadline and no extra seats – it is totally ineffective. 

Another issue: Based on my communication with the Waitlist department, waitlist decisions are made by each school. If a spot becomes available, the school (principal or somebody else – unclear here also) will decide who/if they will take another student. They assured me that they would go according to the waitlist. But how can I know for sure that there are no parents who can influence the school staff and put their kids upfront? 

There is ZERO transparency and communication with the schools overall. 

What do you think?

More Comments