8th grade notification letter confusion

April 7, 2010 2:49:11 PM PDT
The school year is quickly winding down, but some New York City 8th graders still don't know where they will be going to high school next year. Rochelle Grisar and her 8th grade daughter, Jamie, have been anxiously waiting for a high school placement letter that never came.

"I feel bad that, like, my friends got a letter and I didn't," Jamie said.

"I think the courteous thing, and the thing that should be done by the Department of Education, is to send a letter to let kids know what's going on, even if they didn't get a match," Rochelle Grisar said.

The D.O.E. says it did send more than 70,000 letters to 8th graders. The unknown number of those who did not receive them, were invited to get downloaded printouts from their middle schools. I.S. 234 principal Susan Schaeffer took it a step further.

"Homeroom teachers made a list of any kid who didn't receive a letter and my guidance counselor printed out a duplicate letter to send home with the student this afternoon," explained Susan Schaeffer.

Opposition to the closing of 19 schools, and the lawsuit that followed, threw the high school placement process into chaos.

The judge in that case ruled in favor of the teachers union and other plaintiffs against the Department of Education.

"They didn't do the kind of analysis about the impact that these closures were going to have on individual schools," said David Bloomfield, a Brooklyn College Professor.

The D.O.E. had always planned to distribute the letters at each school, but the delays caused by the court case led the department to decide on a mass mailing.

Of course, students could technically enroll in one of the 19 struggling schools which had been set for closure, but that could change if the city wins its appeal of the lawsuit.

Most 8th graders and their families simply want to know where they will be enrolled in school in September.