Parents all over New York City have complained loudly about a policy that makes it more difficult to keep their children in the same public school – from pre-k to kindergarten. But now Lower East Side families have won an exemption from the controversial rules.
At a recent meeting, Department of Education (DOE) officials explained the proposed changes, hammered out with parent activists and elected officials during more than a year of negotiations. Throughout the city, the DOE forbids principals from giving admissions priority to students in pre-k applying for kindergarten in the same school.
LES parent leaders argued the policy is out of step with District 1's longstanding practice of providing a full day of pre-k and of integrating pre-k classes into the fabric of the neighborhood's schools. In some districts, they're separately run, "stand-alone" programs – but not here. They also pointed out District 1 allows parents to send their children to any school they choose (as long as there's room). While the arrangement gives them freedom to make educational decisions, it also means they're not assured a spot for their child in a zoned school. So the DOE's policy caused a lot of anxiety and extra effort, having to go through the arduous application procedure two years in a row.
For these reasons, the DOE agreed to allow students in pre-k programs to stay in the same school for kindergarten. The Community Education Council (CEC) is helping to coordinate an outreach campaign, explaining the new policy to parents. There will be open houses and an enrollment fair each year, and information will be posted online.
The CEC is taking feedback on the proposed changes through January 5th. You can find more information on their web site.