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By Judy Baum
Schools and parents from 59th Street to the top of Manhattan Island have banded together in SUN, Schools Unite Network, to promote school safety and to reduce and prevent crime among kids. SUN uses the internet as an interactive tool to gather information about crime and other safety issues and alert schools, parents and other community members in real time.
The system allows people who might be reluctant to report incidents to the police, to communicate suspicious activity and youth-related crime through the internet. SUN provides information to the appropriate New York Police Department personnel and reports back to schools and community stakeholders, detailing actions taken in response to the problem. In addition, SUN provides safety tips and resources in its SUN alerts and on its website
SUN is the brain child of Jill Greenbaum who founded the Police Liaison Group, Inc (PLG), a nonprofit organization to promote community collaboration in crime prevention. A project of PLG in collaboration with NYC Police Department Division of School Safety in Manhattan North, Sun’s overall goals are to promote school safety, reduce and prevent crime, and help kids who have been engaged in crime to turn their lives around.
Recently SUN expanded its reach through a partnership with the NYC Department of Parks, and is offering information about graffiti reporting and removal, and the consequences for youths who deface public property.
A list of member schools is on the PLG website. Let us know how this is working in your school or neighborhood.
My son has been assigned to a high school he doesn't want to attend. How does the appeals process work?
Dear Queens Mom,
While the initial high school placements are made by computer, appeals are handled by human beings. If you have not already done so, enlist the help of your son's 8th grade guidance counselor. The guidance counselor is a key player, while an appeals committee makes the final decision. The counselor is responsible for entering data from the appeals form into the Student Enrollment Management System (SEMS) data base and also adds a confidential recommendation. So get her on board. It doesn’t hurt to speak to the school that you are requesting, but the decision is not up to them.
In the past, appeals have been pretty successful. In 2008 – the latest year for which we have data – out of 3,722 appeals, 3, 234 were granted.
The Department of Education enrollment office had this to say about the appeals process:
"Appeals are reviewed case by case and determinations are made based on a number of factors including:
- Reason for the appeal; the strongest appeals are generally due to travel, safety or medical hardship (as defined by Chancellor’s Regulations) associated with the current match, or data entry error through no fault of the family
- Admissions methods, admissions priorities and eligibility for the program(s) and schools that the student selected on the appeals form
- Whether or not the student was already considered in previous rounds, and if so, any rank that was already assigned by the program
- Whether or not the appeals form indicated that the student was willing to be placed in a program other than the one(s) selected on the appeals form, if selected programs could not be accommodated
· Seat availability"
Travel hardship is usually defined by a commute of more than 90 minutes. Additional reason for an appeal might be that there are unmet special education needs such as a non-accessible site or lack of needed services. You may also ask for a new small school that is opening in September.
Parents and students may also appeal on the ground that the curriculum at the assigned school is unsuitable. I heard of one case some years ago when a Brooklyn student who could not sing was assigned to Choir Academy of Harlem. That may be an extreme case, but clearly a mismatch between a student’s interests and talents and the school to which he was assigned is a good reason to appeal.
If your appeal fails, ninth grade provides another chance. Ninth graders may apply through the admissions process all over again and with savvy born of past experience, can try for a better placement. Of course, freshman year at his assigned school can turn out to be much better than anticipated, if your son gives it a chance. Remember, you have to turn in the appeal to the middle school guidance counselor by June 3rd
Next year's high school applicants will learn where they have been accepted more than a month earlier than they have in the past, according the Department of Education, which says it has "streamlined" the process to give students their results earlier. The DOE announced next year's admissions timeline at the May high school information meetings for families of 6th and 7th-graders This week's session at PS 166 was packed with parents and middle school students from all over Manhattan who also learned there have been changes in special education admissions.
And, there are more info sessions throughout the month of May. If you attended one, please share what you learned!
Teens who have summer jobs, or are looking for them, should bone up on the requirements for Employment Certificates – formerly know as Working Papers - and start the process of assembling the needed documents. Proposed changes in Chancellor’s Regulation A-250 , will authorize district or Borough Family Advocates to issue the documents when schools are closed and to non-public school students if their schools do not issue them.
When public schools are in session, including summer session, they issue the papers. Each high school and middle school must designate a staff member to handle employment certificates for their own students and inform students and parents of how to apply. The revised regulation will be considered at the June 27 PEP meeting.
Employment Certificates are required for all students age 14 to 18 who work, but there are exceptions. for certain students and certain types of work so teens and their parents should read the regulation carefully. The application for a certificate can be downloaded, or requested at the student’s school. The application must be accompanied by proof of age, a note from a physician attesting to good health, or outlining limitations based on health, the parent’s consent, and in certain cases, proof of employment submitted by the employer.
I have several questions about the G&T testing process. First, the DOE lost the test taken by one of my twins and it took a long time to find it. I checked with the school where it was administered and finally got the information that led to the test being located. Second, I thought that the results of the test were off because one twin did well and the other (who took the test later in the day) missed the cutoff by just a few points. I wonder what I can do to deal with that? I heard from other parents that the accent of the tester may have adversely affected my child's performance. Is there a remedy for that? I know it is late in the process since applications were due on May 10.
Dear G&T parent:,
It is late in the gifted and talented testing process so, while it is possible that last minute appeals will be attended to, I wouldn't count on it. In any case, here is some information for you that may also help summer applicants and future test-takers.
As for the few points difference in the test results, and the problematic accent of the test-giver: If there were conditions that you believed were not fair or conducive to an accurate test result, you were supposed to report the problem within 48 hours of the test administration. See the Gifted & Talented Handbook for more information on that.
According to the Department of Education office in charge of G&T testing: "When a parent appeals the test administration due to a perceived problem with the administrator’s accent, the Office of Assessment investigates the complaint, and, if warranted, retests the student." Even though it is late in the game, it can’t hurt to call the service desk about the problem. I hear that they are swamped with calls so be persistent but patient.
We're wondering whether other families encountered such issues during the administration of the BSRA or OLSAT, and how they were resolved. Please comment below. And we wish all students a happy experience in September.
Attention high school students: It's not too late to apply for a summer job or internship but deadlines are approaching, so act promptly. Here are a few suggestions.
Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is open to young people between the ages of 14 and 24. Participants work up to 25 hours a week for $7.25 per hour in government agencies, hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, and retailers. Applications are due May 27.
Young Adult Internship Program As part of Mayor Bloomberg's Commission for Economic Opportunity, DYCD is providing the most job-ready disconnected youth with short-term paid internships, job placements, and follow-up services.
In-School Youth (ISY) Program provides occupational skills, employment services, and educational opportunities to low-income high school juniors and seniors.
Out-of-School Youth (OSY) Program provides extensive job training and employment services to 16-21 year-olds who are not enrolled in school.
The Apollo Theater Academy Summer Internship Program provides rising high school seniors opportunities to explore administrative and managerial careers in the performing arts and entertainment industries in areas such as programming, marketing and public relations, community outreach, and events management (not performance). There is a weekly stipend. Applications are due May 20.
Borough specific opportunities:
The Bronx : YAIP (Young Adult Internship Program) is a three-month paid internship that includes work readiness and support services for young adults 16-24. Visit www.bronxworks.org
Brooklyn: OBT (Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow) provides on-the-job training/apprenticeship for urban youth in two locations in Brooklyn. Visit www.obtjobs.org
Queens: Elmcor Youth & Adults Activities, Inc. provides various vocational and educational services to young people. Visit www.eec.sunyeoc.org
Staten Island/Manhattan: The Way to Work, Inc. provides extensive trainings, internships, and job placement services to young people 17-21. Visit http://www.waytoworknyc.org/front.
NYC Ladders for Leaders, a program that offers high school and college students summer internships with corporations and businesses in New York City, has already closed its applications for this summer but bookmark it for next summer.
Please share your suggestions in comments.
I am at sea. We just realized that finances will not allow my daughter to continue at the private school where she is finishing 8th grade. What can we do find a public high school at this late date?.
You are entering the great New York City high school hunt at a most frustrating time for all, not just newcomers but kids with no previous matches and those who are disappointed in their assignment. Parents and students in this group have spent weeks revisiting schools, either hoping for a place in a school that previously overlooked them, finding a new possibility among some they did not consider before, or investigating one of the schools slated to start in September. Now the “supplementary round” application has been submitted and the results will not be known until the end of May. Appeals must be filed by June 3.
As a brand new entrant, you have to be a bit patient but you don’t have to wait forever; enrollment offices are open year round and, in fact, according to the director of high school enrollment, Leonard Trerotola, you can still submit an application by FAX to 212-374-5568 . You can also visit the student enrollment office nearest you to put your application in motion. The sooner the better but first do some research.
"Most high schools are not in the recruitment phase, but it often is helpful to call the Parent Coordinator for information about the school," suggests Rob Sanft, director of the enrollment office at the Department of Education. He said that you don't have to wait to apply until August, when special enrollment offices open.
A good strategy is to narrow the search geographically, choose the neighborhoods and boroughs that are within reasonable distance and access to transit. You can do an advanced search on Insideschools to find schools in your preferred area and read what our reviewers say about them. Be sure to find out the admission requirements for each school – don’t reach unrealistically for schools that are super-popular or whose criteria your child doesn’t meet. Each school has a page in the high school directory that lists requirements for admission as well as details about Advanced Placement courses, sports, and the school's graduation rate. Take a look also at the directory of new schools opening in September and read our round-up on the schools that still had openings when placements were announced.
There are several documents you need to enroll, including your child’s transcript. Often private schools delay or even refuse to send transcripts, so make that request right away.
There is no guarantee that you will matched to one of the schools you choose. If you are given a placement that is unacceptable to you, submit an appeal before June 3.
And, there is a school of thought that says you might be better off waiting to apply until late August, along with newcomers to the city and others who don't yet have a placement. Spaces may open up over the summer. We'd like to hear from other parents who may have had a similar experience so please chime in to share your thoughts.
Good luck in the hunt.
If I am waitlisted at my zoned school for kindergarten, does that mean I am guaranteed to get a seat in 1st grade? That’s what my zoned school told me.
Zoned schools are supposed to take all of the kids in their zone for 1st grade and above. BUT that has not always the case in crowded districts. According to the enrollment office, you must “express your interest” for 1st grade and if the school has room you will get an offer based on the order of this year’s waitlist.
All students who are still waitlisted for kindergarten will receive an alternate kindergarten offer in late May, at a school as close to their zoned school as possible, according to DOE officials. You may continue to stay on the waitlist even into the fall. And it will still count for 1st grade.
In order to accommodate as many children as possible, schools are being asked to take a full complement of 25 students per kindergarten class. And they are being asked to stop taking out of zone kids until all waitlisted students in the district are accommodated. At recent meetings with kindergarten families in districts 15 and 2, enrollment office officials stressed that there has already been "significant movement" on the waitlists.
Of course current kindergarten waiting lists include some kids who will opt for the gifted and talented spots – but you won’t know in a timely way whether your child will get one of those open places. Results of the G&T assessments will be out sometime in May with applications due back in late May. The DOE says that the late notification for G&T offers is a matter of its “vendor” having to handle a high volume of tests and test-takers.
There are other ways that waiting lists shrink -- families move, parents opt for a private or charter school, or get an offer off another waiting list.
Please note that you are guaranteed a spot in a kindergarten class even if it’s not in your zoned school.
Meanwhile, cheer up, think of this ordeal as practice for the next level of school choice and as a wake up call for your active participation in school district affairs. Get the parents association and the Community Education Council to make overcrowding a priority. Maybe a solution will emerge by the time 1st grade rolls around
What is two inches thick and heavy as an old telephone book, covers the whole city and is essential to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders? It is the perennial summer reading favorite, the Directory of the New York City Public High Schools. Unlike perennial flowers, this book shows up in a different guise every year and this year you can influence its costume .
At the DOE website you can vote for one of 13 covers, each one designed by a city high school student. In fact, you can vote for one entry per day from now through Friday, April 8. Imagine if a million plus city students and their parents voted each day. Do your part to support the city's student artists. You might even get your first choice.
I have several questions related to choosing a school for our daughter (who is currently 16 months old). We are planning to move to Manhattan in time for her to start school, so I am trying to understand our school options and make real estate decisions accordingly. I was wondering:
How necessary is nursery school (we would like her to attend public schools and try out for G&T later)?
How do I compile a comparative list of Manhattan public schools (by test scores, etc.) to come up with a shortlist?
What happens if she cannot get into the zoned pre-K? Would she still be able to attend kindergarten at the zoned school?
Planning ahead is usually wise, but in the case of public school choice, be prepared to see your plans go awry. With a burgeoning school population in recent years, new schools and new school zones are in the works. You must keep an eye on developments even after you move. That said, here are the answers to your specific questions:
Pre-kindergarten for four-year-olds (no longer called nursery school at that age) is not required but it is indeed necessary. That's because that level is now almost equivalent to what we used to think of as kindergarten. Not every public school has a pre-K so many parents send their kids to schools outside of their zone, or, to free or low cost pre-schools off site at community organizations. There are not enough pre-kindergarten seats to meet the demand in many neighborhoods. Acceptance to a public school pre-K does not automatically confer acceptance to kindergarten at the school. Assuming your zoned school is not bursting at the seams, you should be able to get into the kindergarten there.
Testing for gifted and talented programs takes place the year before your child enters kindergarten.
Test scores are just one of many criteria that you should look at to compile a list of top choices. You can find the 2006-2010 test scores for every school on the Department of Education website. There are many other considerations such as location, size of school and classes, type of program and teaching approach, facilities, arts, science, physical education and more. You can read a profile of each school on Insideschools.
To narrow your search, I would start with location. Once you search by neighborhood, using the Insideschools.org Advanced search feature, you can call up a list of what we call "blue ribbon" or noteworthy, schools. These are schools that the staff has signaled out as special in some way. Of course you will eventually visit your choices, but that can wait until you are ready to move and your daughter is ready to go!
Finally, as you do your research, find out about the school districts in the borough. Each has a distinct personality and a community education council (CEC) where issues of overcrowding, new schools, and zoning changes are discussed.
Remember, before you choose a place to live, before you sign a deed or lease, call 311 to verify the school zone associated with the address and then call the school to double check to make sure you are in the school zone. And, note that some of the most popular Manhattan schools this year have extensive waitlists for kindergarten, although new school openings have helped alleviate some of the worst overcrowding.