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Judy Baum

Judy Baum

Ask Insideschools a Question

Judy Baum, Insideschools' longtime advice columnist, passed away on Dec. 20, 2013. Her columns are archived here, under Ask Judy. Insideschools will continue to answer readers' school-related questions. Email us at

By Judy Baum

Tuesday, 16 July 2013 19:04

Ask Judy: Moving in, around & out of NYC

It's summertime and many families are on the move. Whether moving from one borough to another, from the city to the suburbs or to New York City from another state, which school a child will attend is a huge factor in family plans. This week’s inbox was full of questions from families on the move. Here are a few of them.

Can I still go to my charter school?

Q: We are moving to Yonkers in the summer and were wondering if our son can continue attending the Bronx charter school that he has been going to since 1st grade.

A: Yes, your son may continue to attend the city charter school. Here is what the Department of Education Office of Charter Schools told me in an email:

"If a family moves out of the five boroughs, but wants to continue sending their child to a charter school in the city, then the charter school would bill that district the cost of the per-pupil allocation of that school.

Similarly, if a child moves to the city, but chooses to continue attending a charter school outside of the city, then the charter school would bill the district of residence for the allocation for that student"

There is a big BUT:

"If a student moves out of the state, then the family would have to pay tuition and the school would not receive per pupil dollars."

Hi Judy,

My daughter is going to 8th grade and she has to pick schools to go to in 9th grade. How can I find the perfect school for her? I'm looking for a safe-clean environment and high performance educationally. I am looking forward to have her in a specialized school like Bronx Science.

PAP, Planning ahead parent

Dear PAP,

You are starting the process at the right time.  The Department of Education has announced July workshops for parents about the high school admissions process. Read our post on this issue and plan to attend those workshops.

Even before the sessions, you have homework to do! Your daughter's middle school should have given her a copy of the 2013-2014 Directory of New York City Public High Schools with information about every public high school in the city. If she didn't get one, go to the
nearest enrollment office to pick it up, along with the Specialized High Schools Student Handbook, that has  information about the eight exam schools that require a special test for admission. Bronx Science is one them.  You can also find the directories online. The handbook includes a sample of the qualifying test: the Specialized High School Admission Test, (SHSAT),which will be administered on Oct. 26-27 this year. After taking the sample test, you and your daughter can figure out how much studying she needs to do to qualify for an exam school. Many students arrange tutoring, either individually or in a group, others study with friends or on their own and then take more sample tests. You can find these online or in prep books at a bookstore. See more tips on how to prepare for the SHSAT in a previous Ask Judy column.

Dear Judy,

We plan to move to NYC from South America this summer. Can we still register our 5-year-old in kindergarten?


Dear DT,

Yes, of course. New York City has a kindergarten place for every child who applies, as long as you can present proof of residence in NYC and of your child's age.  Most districts have zoned elementary schools. You may register at your zoned school once school opens in September. If you already know your address, call 311, or from outside New York, 212-new york to find your zoned school. You may also enter your address in the search box on the Department of Education's website  to find the zoned school for that address. There may be other school options but you are guaranteed a place in your zoned school or one that is nearby, in case the neighborhood school is overcrowded.

Thursday, 23 May 2013 16:42

A few more freebie summer kid activities

Memorial Day is the traditional start to summer and if you're still stumped for as to summer plans for your kids, here are a few more possiibilites -- it's not too late to apply!

LIU Brooklyn to Summer Honors Institute

Applications are now available for the Summer Honors Institute at LIU Brooklyn. The program takes place in July with free tuition and housing for 50 highly motivated high school students who will be seniors this fall.  The  students will attend either the Next Generation Entrepreneurship program conducted by LIU Brooklyn’s business school or the Health Professions Academy conducted by the School of Health Professions. Applicants must be nominated by their school principal or guidance counselor. The deadline for nominations is June 14. To learn more, visit, email, or call 718-780-6500.

Leadership & Debate for Girls at Hunter College:

Bella Abzug Leadership Institute is seeking female high school and college students to participate in a free 11-day training program including workshops in debate techniques, public speaking, critical thinking, policy research, writing speeches, articles and developing the skills to analyze contemporary public policy issues. July 29-Aug. 10. Apply by June 21. See the website for more information and application.

Summer engineering for elementary students in Brooklyn:

The SEEK Program, led by National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) engineering students and technical professionals offers a free three-week program open to students who are now finishing 3rd through 5th grade. It is computer-based, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. daily from July 22 through Aug. 9. It takes place at PS 5 Dr. Ronald McNair. 820 Hancock Street, Brooklyn. See the flier for how to apply.

My daughter is in 9th grade and while she has had some good experiences overall, she's not thriving at her large high school. We've been told that a smaller school might be a better option for her. Is it possible to transfer? We missed the window of applying through the general admissions process for 10th grade!

High school parent

Dear High school parent:

Changing high schools at the end of 9th grade is difficult, but not impossible. There are three official transfers that the Department of Education will allow: Health, travel time and safety issues, including bullying. You can read more about these on our high school transfer page or, for more details, see Chancellor’s Regulation A-101.

In certain circumstances, you can ask for what used to be called a guidance transfer but no longer officially exists. That is best approached with a recommendation from the guidance counselor attesting to the mismatch of child to curriculum or atmosphere of the school, Unfortunately, the enrollment office makes the decision, and although you can specify the school or schools you want, there is no guarantee that she will be assigned to one of them. For this kind of transfer, you can go to the enrollment office right now, or wait until the very end of the summer and go to one of the special high school enrollment centers that operate for a few weeks into the school year. Be aware that these transfers are tough to get but persistence may pay off.

We had a number of questions this week from parents who are confronted with “Promotion in Doubt” letters, or “PIDs” as they are known in DOE lingo. These letters are sent to families of children who are at risk of repeating a grade or who may be failing a course needed to graduate.  Here are three recent questions from parents who received a PID letter.

 1.Why did I get a promotion in doubt letter, when my daughter's teachers have said that she is doing well and on target for graduation?

2. My kindergartner’s teacher says my son is making good progress according to the terms of his IEP, so why the letter?

3. I never heard this before from my child’s teachers and here it is almost the end of the school year and I'm just now getting the letter?

Here's some advice to these and other parents with similar problems.

Dear Judy,

I know that kids are required to go to school a certain amount of hours and days. Can you tell me how many hours of school are required and if they are different at different grades?


Dear Mary,

Your question opens a complex set of issues – bound up in state law and regulations, allocation of state aid and New York City's own variations, developed with the United Federation of Teachers and codified in their contract.

Students in New York state are required to attend school from age six. (In NYC the age is five, except that parents can choose to opt out of kindergarten and start their six year olds in 1st grade instead.)

When figuring out the length of the school day and hours of instruction, keep in mind that state laws define minimum hours.  Increased number of days and hours are allowed, provided that the union agrees. Charter schools are not bound by these rules, indeed most charters have extended instruction time, and many non-charter public schools do as well.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013 10:04

Ask Judy: Waitlisted! What next?

Hi Judy,

Please help! My daughter is wait-listed for kindergarten at her zoned school. We will be calling the school to find out where she is on the wait list. Until we know she's in a school, what do we do next?  She also scored in the 90th percentile for G&T. By looking at the stats it doesn't seem like she will be guaranteed a seat. Please let me know if you have any advice on what any parents in our position should do next as we can't afford private school. Any help is appreciated.

Thank you!


Dear Winnie,

Don't fret and do be patient. I assume you plan to apply to a Gifted and Talented program, so wait until you find out if she got a spot. By the way, the deadline for G&T placement was extended until May 10 to accommodate those whose tests were temporarily misplaced and whose tests were mis-scored. That in turn will make notification of placements later than expected.  It also means that your daughter's score may have changed for the better.. On the other hand, so many more children qualified that seats may be scarcer.

Tuesday, 09 April 2013 10:45

Ask Judy: How to prepare for 9th grade?

Dear Judy: My son was accepted to Beacon High School. He is very happy and is already making plans as to what he will do at the new school.  I don't come from the U.S. and my question is:  Is it a good school? How can I help him prepare for his first year? He doesn't know yet what profession he wants to pursue when he goes to college. 

Spanish-speaking dad

Dear Dad:

I am glad to hear that your son is pleased with his high school placement. Beacon is a very good school and it will prepare him well for university studies. Universities in the United States do not require students to choose what they will focus on until they are well into the second year of the four years they will spend there. High school years can be used for exploring many subjects and possible careers. That's why, to graduate, students must earn 44 credits for academic courses in math, science, social studies, English, a non-English language, art, music and physical education. Beacon is a member of the New York Performance Standards Consortium, and, as such students are exempt from taking most state exams called Regents. Instead, course credits are based on detailed projects called portfolios which students present to their teachers and peers.

Beacon graduation requirements are online. You can compare these to the city's Department of Education requirements listed on the website. And, when the time comes, there is a very helpful guide to preparing your child for college: Your Children Can Go to College...Yes They Can!" [PDF] which was developed by the New York Immigration Coalition. It's available in English and Spanish.

But, right now, turn your attention to helping your child prepare for entering 9th grade in September. Like many city high schools, Beacon will have a summer orientation, where your son will visit the school, get any summer assignments and suggestions as to how to prepare for 9th grade. There may be a reading or writing assignment. There he will also meet other 9th graders. If your son is to travel to school via public transportation, help him learn the route and practice the trip. He should time the door to door travel during early morning --when getting there on time is so important. The school may be able to help you get in touch with other students traveling from your neighborhood.

Finally, as summer winds down, try encourage him to follow a sleep schedule that he will need to arrive at school ready to learn.

Good luck to your son for a great high school experience.


Deadlines are looming for summer opportunities for teens. If you act quickly, you can still get in on some great programs. Here are just a few that we've found.

YMCA Teen Career Connection, a paid summer internship program that provides opportunities for high school students to gain experience in the professional world. Participants in the eight-week internship are placed in fields related to their career interests, and are provided with a $1,250 stipend, $300 for professional clothing and two monthly unlimited Metrocards. Applicants must live in NYC, be available from June 28-Aug. 23 and on Sept. 9 and be a sophomore, junior or senior in high school. Contact the West Side YMCA at 5 West 63 St. Applications are due by Friday, April 5. See the website for details.