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By Judy Baum
My 16 year old 10th grade daughter received a safety transfer from her very dangerous high school. How do I go about finding a new high school for her?
Confused and anxious
Dear Confused and Anxious.
Transfers are hard to get so your daughter’s experience in an unsafe school must have been harsh. Take the time to find a school that is known for a warm and nurturing atmosphere and which puts emphasis on respectful interactions among student and faculty.
Parents applying to kindergarten for fall 2012 still have questions as the pre-registration period draws to a close on March 2. Here are a few more questions that parents asked at our kindergarten workshop this month.1. If you apply to a school not in your zone or district before the deadline, do you take precedence over someone in the zone who has missed the deadline?
No, sorry, the school is required to serve its own zoned kids before anyone else whenever they show up unless the Education Department has agreed that the school has no room left and caps enrollment. In that case, out of zone kids would not have been accepted in the first place. When you register does not count – priorities do.
Applications for public school pre-kindergarten will be available March 5 online and at elementary schools and Education Department enrollment offices. Families must submit applications by April 5. Applications for programs located in community based organizations are separate and are now available online or at each agency that offers pre-kindergarten.
Any child who turns four years old in 2012 may apply, but seats are not guaranteed. While admissions to public school pre-k is not as competitive -- or as expensive -- as private school --in many areas of the city, such as the Upper East Side and Park Slope, there are not enough seats to meet the demand. Programs are housed in public schools or at local daycares and pre-schools, and are either half day (2.5 hours), or full day, (six hours and 20 minutes.)
How do you find out which schools and community centers offer programs? Early in March directories will be posted online, or you can get paper copies at schools, daycare and Head Start centers and borough enrollment offices.
My son has been physically attacked several times in elementary school – I call it bullying—but the classroom teacher is no help when it happens and the rest of the staff has not been helpful either. What can I do to help my son?
Frantic mother in Queens
Dear Frantic Mother in Queens,
Considering all the attention to combating bullying these days, it is really disheartening to hear that your school still has no clue about how to handle it. The week before schools closed for the winter break was Respect for All week – to highlight activities associated with the Department of Education program to combat bullying.
Ed Note: Parents of prospective pre-K and kindergarten students had lots of questions at the Feb. 8 Insideschools forum at the New School. There wasn’t time to answer each one individually, so we grouped together similar questions and Judy will answer them. Here, she tackles questions about schools that may not have enough room for all zoned students.
Q: My child falls into the second priority for admission to kindergarten. Within this second priority how is admissions decided? Is it first-come first-served, random, or based on our actual address? Of course, we would be crushed if our child had to be waitlisted as a zoned child so I am wondering what we can do to increase our chances.
The Department of Education has established priority guidelines for all children applying to kindergarten. These are outlined on the DOE’s website and in the new Elementary School Directory. First priority goes to zoned students whose siblings will be enrolled in grades K-5 in September 2012. Second priority goes to zoned students who don't have siblings enrolled in the school – your situation.
I have a son in a private school and I would like him to apply to public middle schools. I have been told that he will need to take the public school New York state exam in the spring of 4th grade year in order to apply to public middle schools. Is this the correct procedure? Is it possible for him to take this exam? Can he take gifted and talented testing?
Private school mom
Dear Private School Mom,
No need for your son to take the New York State standardized tests. It is true that middle schools (particularly the selective ones) use 4th grade state test scores as a criteria for acceptance. But schools are savvy – they are aware that most private schools don't administer those tests. Instead, they will use your child's grades and attendance record as benchmarks for placement. There are other criteria that schools use for both public school and private school kids. Many ask kids to submit portfolios of school work. Some give their own exams or auditions, and many hold interviews -- a good chance for your child to show his best strengths. In these cases, standardized tests are just part of the mix.
My child scored in the 90th percentile on the G&T test last year, but didn't get offered a seat anywhere. What's the deal?
Dear Gifted Mom,
When dealing with the Department of Education, guarantees can be murky. Read the fine print and adhere to the rules:
Score in the 90th percentile or higher? Yes, you are guaranteed a district seat IF your child is going into kindergarten or 1st grade and IF on your application, you list every G&T option in your district. Ahead of you at the door are siblings of kids already enrolled. They have priority, based on the score they obtain. Then it is strictly by score. If there are more kids at the same score than there are places available, a lottery is held. If your child is one of those who does not get a place after that exercise is completed in all the district G&T programs, then there are two possibilities :
If there are enough kids who did not get placed, then the DOE might (and should) open an additional program. If there are not enough kids for a new program, then the DOE should offer a place in a neighboring district, where there are extra seats.
Some other factors:
If your top priority is for your child to be placed in the G&T program in his/her sibling’s school, make sure that school is your first choice on the application.
Twins, and presumably triplets, etc, are placed together if all are eligible. The twin or triplet with the highest score is the one who stands on the line. When placed, she brings her siblings in with her.
A placement exception request (PER) can be used to keep general ed and G&T students in the same school. In fact, you’d be wise to read the Gifted & Talented Handbook very carefully before submitting the application. There are many ins and outs that could apply to your situation.
As for Citywide programs, there is no guarantee at all. Highest scorers are placed first, and if your child did not get placed in a citywide program and you did not list all the district options, s/he could miss out altogether.
Don’t get too anxious about placement right now. Keep calm, cool and collected while you help your child prepare for the OLSAT/BSRA tests -- make it a fun exercise and bring a relaxed child to the test.
How does the DOE decide to start a dual language program? Are they proposed by interested parents?
Dear ELL Mom,
Parents do have a big role in establishing dual language programs: the Department of Education is obligated to start one if at least 12 parents of English language learners who speak the same home language request one.
Close to half of city elementary schools do not meet state standards for arts instruction, even as the number of certified arts teachers in the schools has grown, according to the 2010-11 fifth annual Arts in the Schools Report released just before the holidays.
I am in District 15. I am trying to find out when PreK applications are due and don't see it online. Do you know? Thank you for any information.
Dear Brooklyn Mom,
The pre-k admissions calendar was just posted by the Education Department.You have time to sit back and enjoy the holidays. The application period begins on March 5 and the deadline to submit the application is April 6. Results will be sent out in June.
This means you have a good few months to consider your options. You'll find directories online of public school programs that offered pre-k classes this year, and community based organizations that have DOE subsidies to provide public pre-k. So far, the only pre-k directory online is for the current 2011-2012 school year.