Students without a school on UES

August 14, 2008 2:53:41 PM PDT
With less than three weeks until the first day of school, some 5-year-olds don't know which school they will attend. Their parents say the children still haven't been assigned to a kindergarten, and they are frustrated.The parents of 4-year-old Rohan Jha say they did everything right, but as of Thursday morning, the Department of Education still had not assigned him a spot in a kindergarten class.

"We've been e-mailing, we've been calling, we get the same answer," Rohan's mom, Rakhi Jha, said. "The only answer we get is, 'We're working on it.'"

Jennifer Sapienza says she got a letter saying her son Rex was assigned to PS 158 on York Avenue. But when she called the school, officials told her he wasn't on the roster.

"I just feel like we're in limbo," she said. "We don't know what to do, don't know how to make plans for September."

Assembly member Micah Kellner and City Council member Jessica Lappin said about 10 parents in the neighborhood got those letters, then were told there were no spots at the school, the result of a computer error.

"The DOE wouldn't even tell us at first how many kids this actually affected," Kellner said. "They seemed to want to sweep this under the rug."

The placement problem stems from a unique situation. The PS 151 elementary school was demolished eight years ago to make room for apartments. Since students in the neighborhood have no zoned school, they must enter a lottery to get a placement.

"These children, like all New York City students, are entitled to a school, not a permanent lottery ticket," Lappin said.

A Department of Education spokesman says there was no computer error, but that it took longer than usual to place about 10 students, and that that is happening now.

He adds that the DOE is working on the process that would lead to the designation of a permanently zoned school for the neighborhood.

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STORY BY: Education reporter Art McFarland

WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King

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