Accountability · DOE Fails · New York City

NYC School Application Law: Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong

It’s Kindergarten application season in NYC! Four year olds are being interviewed for Hunter College Elementary School and getting tested for public school Gifted & Talented programs while their parents are navigating the online portal to apply them to General Education Kindergarten, which includes zoned, unzoned, magnet, dual language options and more.

Last year, we brought you tales of malfunctioning websites, tests cancelled at the last minute without informing parents, intrusive (and illegal) questionnaires, and much more.

Here’s what parents are reporting has been going on this year —and the admissions process has only just begun!

Hunter College Elementary School:

Our assessor — at a cost of $375– could not even focus enough to work out if our child was a boy or a girl, and referred to him as her” (it’s not remotely ambiguous, fyi). This person was making vital decisions for our child’s future and was completely unfocused. A  real waste of time and money.

MySchools Ranking:

I’ve gone through the “Search” section and starred 12 schools as “Favorites.”  When I then go to the “Apply” section it says I have no “Favorites” so I can’t drag and drop any schools to the Application. I’ve logged out and logged back in multiple times and still the same issue….

Why, after two years, the programmers haven’t yet worked out bugs in the online enrollment system AND also how poorly designed and user unfriendly both that program and the new DOE website are.  Should also point out that data provided is hard to understand for the layperson (like me) unless you’ve got data analysis skills. I don’t know where they hired their developers and programmers from but they’re definitely not hiring cream of the crop for the $94k and  $109k salaries….

Gifted & Talented Testing:

We live in the UWS and our son was given a G&T test location of the Lower East Side….

I just logged onto My Schools and now understand why we received two G+T letters for different locations — there seems to be two listings for my preschooler, each with her correct name and current school. I’m so afraid that if I try to fix this it will mess up her K admissions process — and that if I DON’T try to fix it it will mess up her K admissions process….

I waited and waited for the G&T application to be available on the website. I completed it through my MySchools account literally hours after the link opened up. I scheduled my daughter on the desired date, time and location. I was excited and looked forward to it! It was at a school we’d really like to visit as well. Unfortunately, I recently received an email informing me that the original school location we picked for her to be tested is now unavailable due to construction. Not only will the school be unavailable at the given time but it is no longer an option for alternative dates/times. I do not understand why DOE administration did not invest more time into organizing and ensuring that all was set to go. It has been a lot of emails back and forth trying to reschedule. If it wasn’t for the associate reaching out to me to ask me to reschedule, we would’ve never known the school was unavailable for testing. They need to improve on preparedness and I pray that all goes well on the day of my daughter’s testing as the process is already stressful enough….

There is most likely an error in my test registration as it says my son can take it at his school but he is in a trailer and my friend who also has her kid in my son’s class got an Astoria school on the weekend which is what all my friends did last year…. I have now been routed 3 times and now have to send an email to GThelp and pray someone attends to this ASAP.  Oh my! Fun times ;-)….

Another mom wrote me to say:

My son is in PreK.  We received the wrong letter saying he’d be tested at his school (for K and up) for G & T.  I have sent several emails explaining the error and heard nothing.

This is interesting because, when G&T registration first opened, I sent an email to my readers explaining the process. I clarified that while most students would be tested on the weekend at a dedicated site, those children already attending public school would be tested at their schools during the weekdays.

I received a response from a Department of Education employee stressing in no uncertain terms that: All current pre-K students (born in 2015) will test on the weekend, NOT at their current school. Only current K-2 students in public schools (non-charter) will test at their current school.

I wrote back that some Pre-K families had been told the opposite at their schools. He assured me those families had misunderstood.

When I received the note from the mom above, I emailed him directly. He wrote back: I would need the student’s name in order to investigate further but it sounds like something led to them receiving the incorrect notification, either there having been incorrect information on their profile or an error for some other reason.

This was December 20. I forwarded the mom his response and email address.

On December 30, I followed up with her to find out if her grievance had been addressed.

She replied: I did email this guy and a few times. I heard nothing. I just emailed him again.

On January 1, she finally heard: I apologize for the delay. I will personally look into this first thing tomorrow morning. We will sort this out. 

Her son finally received the right date and location on January 2.

It took over 10 days. And, in the end, the problem wasn’t rectified through any of the official channels other parents are being told to employ.

It was fixed because we reached out directly to the DOE representative who’d sworn to me that all Pre-K students would be tested on the weekend and that it was impossible families were being given contrary information.

So that’s one happy ending. But what are parents who don’t have this inside option supposed to do? Are you one of them? Tell us how this process has been going for you. And if you’ve got solutions to any of the above issues, tells us that, too. We’re all about Parents Helping Parents!

What do you think?

One thought on “NYC School Application Law: Anything That Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong

  1. So not only can’t the DOE educate their kids, heroic efforts from teachers notwithstanding; they can’t get decent work out of their highly paid no-bid software vendors either.

    It’s actually worse — maybe you can cover this in a future article — they can’t even keep bullies, thugs and criminals out of schools and maintain a safe environment for kids who want to learn!

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