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NYC Mom Fights DOE – And Wins! How You Can, Too!

In August of 2018, we spotlighted a mom who was deliberately blackballed by her zoned school – and how she pushed back.

In July of 2019, we profiled the family who did everything right when applying their child to public Kindergarten – and still got the run-around.

Today, we’ll hear from a parent who took on the Department of Education and won, with tips on how you can do it, too!

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

December 2019, I completed his Kindergarten application with excitement and patiently waited for the result letter. To my sadness, my son did not receive admission to the Bronx Delta School for Kindergarten. He was not even placed on the waitlist. Currently, both of my children attend The Bronx Delta School. My son is in Pre-K and my daughter is in the first grade. While waiting to hear back from The Bronx Delta School, my son received an offer for his zoned school, PS 304. This was quite a surprise because, I was under the impression my son would be granted sibling priority. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

I immediately felt sadness as a million thoughts raced through my head. What happened to sibling priority? How will I tell my son that he will no longer be attending school with his sister? How will he adjust to this new transition given all the adjustments made with remote learning? Will this cause him anxiety? How will his sister feel knowing that they will no longer be able to emotionally support each other in the same school?

I became anxious as I could not understand why he was not even placed on the waitlist. I reached out to the parent coordinator inquiring about the waitlist April 2020. A few weeks passed and I did not hear from her. I then reached out to the principal (Maria Rogalle) early May 2020, explained the situation and requested advice. She urged me to contact the Office of Enrollment and explain the situation. So, I did. After several voice messages and email requests to the Office of Enrollment, I finally received an email asking me to verify I was indeed the parent of my child. I was asked to provide a few pieces of identification. Upon doing so, a few days later I received another email urging me to accept my child’s offer and with a link provided to add my child on the waitlist of the school of my interest, The Bronx Delta School. The school in which my son was already a student.

 I continued to keep the principal updated every step as I thought I would be getting some support. I explained to the principal that a representative got back to me and my son is now on the waitlist. She mentioned in her email that she would check his waitlist number and get back to me. A few days went by and I had not heard from her. I decided to follow-up with her. To my disappointment, the principal got back and stated my son was #110 on the waitlist. Can you picture my reaction at this point? Number 110?  She urged me to contact the Office of Enrollment again and explain the situation. I did.  The Office of Enrollment representative stated that I needed to tell the principal that my child goes to the school (a fact that the principal Rogalle was already aware of). My frustration grew as I went back and forth between the principal of The Bronx Delta School and the Office of Enrollment.

 As a Guidance Counselor, an employee of the Department of Education, I go above and beyond for my students and their parents. I offer support and assistance when needed. I am solution focused and I take pride in knowing that my students and their parents can rely on me for support and guidance. It is disheartening to know that people like Principal Rogalle and the Parent Coordinator would be this negligent with my situation. What’s even more concerning is the role of a parent coordinator was created by the DOE specifically to support parents. If that’s the case why did it take her weeks to contact me. As an employee of the DOE I am aware of the system and the protocol put in place as it pertains to enrollment. I know that my son should have been given sibling priority, so why did Principal Rogalle give me the run around? Why wouldn’t she advocate for her own student? 

 Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to the questions written above. I still had a problem, My son was at #110 on the waitlist of the school he currently attends. I decided it was well within my rights to advocate for my son and requested to speak with a supervisor from the Office of Enrollment. That evening I also reached out to the District (8) Family Support Coordinator (Donna Murphy) whom I emailed and left a voice message. I reached out again to the parent coordinator of the Bronx Delta School in an attempt to get some help. She was not able to provide me with any advice.

 After my efforts to advocate for my son, the very next day, I received an email from the Borough Enrollment Director who stated she connected with Principal Rogalle of Bronx Delta and the D8 superintendent team about this situation and have cleared up any confusion.  She informed me that my son’s now priority group is “in-district with sibling”. He is now #2 on the waitlist and no longer #110.  

Advocating is the best thing you can do for your child.

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