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By Judy Baum
My 4-year-old, kindergartner broke another student's glasses. Am I legally responsible to pay for the glasses?
I believe that you are responsible, if not legally, then ethically. Sometimes its tough, but you do have to live with the consequences of your child's behavior. I suggest that the best way to handle this is to meet with the teacher and the other child's parents to work out a settlement.
September is a long way away, but if your child turns five in 2012 it's about time to apply to elementary school. Applications are available at each school Jan. 9 and are due March 2. You must submit an application, even if you are applying to your zoned school.
According to the timeline on the Department of Education's website, children will receive their assignments the week of March 19 - 23. Exceptions: students eligible for Gifted & Talented programs will get their assignments in May, and those applying to charter schools will find out if they have won a seat after lotteries are held in April.
There are priorities for admission, with highest going to siblings of kids already attending, and lowest to kids from outside the district, with no siblings in attendance. The majority of kindergartners do attend their neighborhood schools but because of over-crowding in some neighborhoods there is no guarantee of admission to your zoned school. If there are more applicants than spaces available, a lottery is held. If you are not given a space in your zoned school, you are assured of a space in another district school and your child may receive busing. Space permitting, you can return to the zoned school in 1st grade or later.
Children with special needs also go through the general application process, with the anticipation that most schools should be able to offer needed special education services. The DOE is hosting a series of kindergarten orientation meetings for families of kids with disabilities, beginning on Nov. 29 and running through mid-December. Some sessions will be conducted in Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, and Bengali. See the schedule here. Children eligible for District 75 programs serving kids with severe disabilities in a highly specialized environment will receive a placement right after their IEP meetings in the spring.
My middle school son tapped on the shoulder of a girl sitting in front of him, but she thought it was someone else and pushed that kid. The teacher sentenced all of them to detention. I think my son was unfairly punished, but what bothers me most is that the detention is on Saturday. Is it legal to hold Saturday detention? And if so, will there be lunch?
Your question convinces me that the school is failing in its obligation to communicate with parents.
If you look at the Department of Education’s Discipline Code, you will find that in school detention is listed as one of the possible disciplinary responses allowed, depending on the grade and infraction. In middle school, it is definitely sanctioned for disturbing the classroom peace and according to Marge Feinberg, spokesperson for the Department of Education, "Arranging detentions is up to principals."
The Department of Education is holding borough by borough information sessions for parents with kids in universal pre-kindergarten programs, known as UPK. The goal is to help parents engage and support their child's learning and rather long range, to "discuss ways in which families can help lay a solid foundation in preparing children for college and career."
Along with information on Common Core standards, learning strategies and curriculum, there will be practical help with the elementary school application process. Unfortunately, the December sessions begin after the final date to sign up gifted and talented testing, so a key element of the process will be missing. However, if the timeline follows last year's, general applications won't be due until March, so there's plenty of time to learn about the rest of the system.
Oh, and there will be door prizes raffled at each site.
My 5th-grader is applying to middle school and I want to know: Can I apply to schools out of district? How do I rank schools if most of the good ones say "you must place us first to be considered"?
Mom of a 5th-grader
Each district has its own process for assigning kids to middle schools. Fortunately, there are handbooks for each district explaining their process. Unfortunately, there are lots of issues that still need clarification.
My daughter scored below a 3 at the State test for math. She is in 5th grade and not doing well with math. I requested to put her in the extended time help period but was told that the school only has extended day for ELA. I was told that there is something called Academic intervention and I asked for that. Is the school not obligated to provide extra math help for those who do not meet the standard requirements? How can I ensure that the principal will provide her with extra math tutoring? Is there any other department within the DOE that I can contact if my daughters school does not offer the help I requested?
Dear Bronx Mom,
Yes, indeed there is a requirement to provide academic intervention services for kids who score in the level 1 or 2 range on standardized tests. Like many policies these days, it is up to the principal to put it in place. I imagine that budget shortfalls have a lot to do with reducing the service, but that should not stop the principal from providing help to a student who needs it. Since you have already spoken to the principal, do what the DOE recommends: contact your school's network leader. The network leader is listed on your school’s online report card.
The Department of Education is holding public hearings for parents, educators and others to comment on this year’s Contracts for Excellence plan. The C4E, as it is known, contains plans to provide help to the neediest students in seven areas: class size reduction, time on task, teacher and principal quality initiatives, middle school and high school restructuring, full-day pre-Kindergarten, and model programs for English Language Learners.
The Contract for Excellence process was established by the legislature after the State Court of Appeals agreed that the city and 20 other urban districts had been shortchanged for years by the state’s education funding formula. Additional funds are due to the city provided the DOE comes up with plans for their use. According to the State Education Department, “…the allocation of funds must continue to be for one of the seven C4E-allowable programs and must continue to predominantly benefit pupils with the greatest needs: i.e., (i) students with limited English proficiency and/or English language learners; (ii) students in poverty; (iii) students with disabilities; and (iv) students with low academic achievement.”
District 3 is holding an elementary school fair to showcase its 21 public elementary schools. On Saturday, Oct. 15, principals, teachers, students and parents will be on hand to talk up their schools and explain the admissions process. District 3 schools include neighborhood schools, schools that have brand new magnet-themed programs to attract students from outside the zone, French and Spanish dual language programs and gifted and talented programs.
The fair is sponsored by the Community Education Council (CEC) and the district President's Council. It runs from 10 am to 1 pm at PS 165, 234 West 109th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam. It is the first such elementary school fair that we have heard about this year. Any others planned? Post the event on the calendar and share the news through in comments below. Also see the District 3 forum for individual school tours.
Our neighborhood school (in Brooklyn) does not have outdoor recess time. The children never have a chance to play outside. Every day they must sit in the cafeteria for 50 minutes in silence. Absolutely no talking allowed. To me, it seems abusive. There is a huge yard adjacent to the school, but the administration refuses to let the children go outside. I wonder if there are any regulations in regards to recess time, or it is up to the schools. Thank you.
Dear Mrs. K:
You might be surprised to know that the Department of Education does have a policy that calls for recess every day, preferably out of doors. I am surprised, not only that that your school does not allow kids to go outdoors after lunch, but also that sitting silently in a cafeteria passes for recess. Most schools provide indoor games and activities when kids don't go out, because of bad weather or the kids choose to stay in. While there are many parent complaints about kids being made to watch videos of questionable quality at recess, that's another story.
Public libraries are letting children and teens off the hook for fines for overdue books.
In a welcome-back to school outreach to city kids, the New York Public Library System, (NYPL) Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library, decided to overlook outstanding library fines as long as borrowed materials are returned. The offer is good until October 31.
Kids under age 17, in all five boroughs, (NYPL includes the