(This is a guest post by Irina B., an NYC mom just starting on her public school journey.)
My daughter, Ava, was offered a public pre-K spot at PS 347. We accepted our offer in May, got a call from the school, toured it and confirmed our acceptance with the below email
Subject: Confirmed: Offer Accepted
Date: May 19, 2022 at 9:50:29 AM EDT
Thank you for responding to your child’s Pre-K for All offer at THE 47 AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE & ENGLISH LOWER SCHOOL (02M347) Pre-K – Full Day (02M347PK).
This email confirms that you have accepted your child’s offer.
For more information please log into your MySchools account or contact the school directly.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
Office of Student Enrollment
I then sent them the following email:
We toured the school last week, but I forgot to drop off our documents (birth certificate, etc.) Can I email them somewhere or stop by to drop off? Thank you.
As we got no answer, I kept calling the school, and they kept giving me all these email addresses, but no one would respond to anything. Here’s another email:
I was wondering if PS 347 has extended day that we could apply for. I’ve tried getting in touch with them over the summer, but no one is available. Thank you.
This is the answer I got back:
Are you already enrolled in our pre-k program?
What is your child’s name?
Assistant Principal, PS 347
All Signs Point to Success
Finally, we stopped by the school to find out the start time for (the first day of school) since we hadn’t received any updates since June. I also brought my daughter’s birth certificate and other documents.
For about 25 minutes the front desk security guard was telling us to leave “because the assistant principal said you are not on her Pre-K roster so she doesn’t have to talk to you.”
We could hear and partially see the assistant principal, Miss Marianne Fisher. However, the security guard had to walk back and forth between us for almost half an hour because Miss Fisher refused to come out.
Eventually Miss Fisher emerged, with a roster that did not include my daughter’s name. She said that my daughter’s place was “gone”, that “there were 18 spots and each of them has been given to another child.” Miss Fisher made it very clear that my daughter would not be starting on Thursday and that she had checked and rechecked this roster many times.
Miss Fisher repeatedly stated that the Department of Education and MySchools information was irrelevant and that “all the decisions have been made and would not be changed under any circumstances.”
I was showing the assistant principal our acceptance letter and she took it out of my hands and flipped to the very last page that says “Waitlist information” and pointed at PS 40 (where we’re #37) and said “let me show you: this is where your daughter will be going. We’re not a pre-K for all.”
After leaving the school, I emailed and called the Department of Education:
I’m at the school right now. Marianne Fisher, the Assistant principal, is here saying that my daughter’s spot is no longer available for her and that she is not on their roster. They said there is nothing they can do. She keeps saying over and over that they are “not pre-K for all” and that absolutely under no circumstances is my daughter starting here. Is there a phone number where I or she can reach you? Thank you.
Since no one would give me a phone number, we went to the Family Reception Center where we waited for almost two hours until a DOE representative informed us that if my daughter’s spot was “gone” or “had been given to someone else” by Miss Fisher “for whatever reason”, the DOE will do absolutely nothing. The representative offered to put my daughter on a waiting list, but then quickly learned that it would be technologically impossible because she was listed as “accepted” at that school!!!
After speaking with a number of other DOE representatives, some of whom contacted Miss Fisher directly, this very personal “roster” of Miss Fisher’s magically changed to contain my daughter’s name again.
No apologies or explanations followed, only the following email:
|From: ES_Enrollment <ES_Enrollment@schools.nyc.gov>Date: September 1, 2022 at 3:56:53 PM EDT|
I reached out to them. They helped me navigate the website so that I could see all of the students who were accepted and who have seats. They also explained that Pre-K For All logo was not specific to the Pre-K for All centers.
Yes. Ava is listed. She has a seat here!
Our pre-k coordinator, Nancy Malfitano (cc’d here) starts on September 6th. You can drop off Ava’s paperwork before then, or arrange to meet with Nancy on that date. Rose Werner, our previous pre-k coordinator probably conducted the tour in June. She is no longer here.
I will also alert Nancy to check her email for your email so she can respond (I believe she has an out of office reply auto-message on).
I shared my experience in a social media forum and a number of parents recounted stories similar if not more concerning.
For more NYC schools parent success stories, see:
The Mom Who Did Everything Right When Applying Her Child To NYC Public School Kindergarten – And What Happened Next
NYC Mom Deliberately Blackballed From Zoned School
NYC Mom Fights DOE and Wins – How You Can Too!