Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BRONX SCHOOL CHILDREN 'LOST' IN THE SYSTEM

From Leonie Haimson:


Congrats to Bronx BP Carrion for speaking the truth. Despite the widespread attempt to make it seem like there were few problems this year, the problems of overcrowding, lack of placements, and poor transportation appear rampant.

According to his new report, “we have seen that there is a systemic problem in the way that the Department of Education approaches, and plans for the new school year. A systemic problem that has not gone away despite all the changes the Department has undertaken; a problem that if allowed to persist,will continue to leave countless New York families out in the cold, waiting for their children to receive the quality education they have been promised, and deserve."

Here are quotes from Bronx principals:

“I am so overcrowded I don't have enough chairs for the students. I informed HS Enrollment that they were sending too many students but they kept sending them anyway.” ~Bronx School Principal

In addition to problems with general education enrollment, principals are reporting serious problems with the enrollment of special education students this year. Enrollment and transfer requests for special education students that were supposed to be processed before this school year have not taken place. This has left countless special education students in schools without the appropriate services or out of school all together. This is a grave violation of state education law.

“Students in special education are being given metro cards to ride city busses. I had a grade two child who has turrets [sic] syndrome and hits himself who is asked to ride a city bus. The parent is not given a metro card so it is expected that thd child will ride alone. This is insane. Busses for

special ed children arrive to my school 30 to 45 minutes after school has begun. So instead of more we give less to our most neediest students.” -Thu, 9/11/08 9:53 AM.

“yellow bus service for district 75 students was horrific. Examples: students arriving home at 7 pm with bus company unable to contact bus, buses arriving at practically 10 am to school, parents putting in proper paperwork for change of address during summer- new address not in system and bus goes to old address, students dropped from bus runs and not picked up until a week later” -Fri, 9/5/08 4:23 PM

“OSEPO placements to non-existent or over crowded classes; confusing pre-k enrollment resultingin parents believing they can not register their child.” -Mon, 9/8/08 6:40 PM

“None of the students awaiting special education placement over the summer were placed. This has resulted in many students being in the wrong placement at the start of the school year. In addition, OSEPO has continued to enroll students at our school. This has created an unsafe condition at the school. We need assistance in getting the zone of the school reduced.”

“Special Education bussing for some students was terminated without explanations nor parent notification. No process was in place to rectify situation. OSEPO placed students in Special ED classes without giving priority to our own students. Summer placement was not done. Students are not in the proper classes."

“The prekindergarten application process is a nightmare. The placement of special education students is also horrible. We still have students awaiting placement from last year.”

“Special Ed placement and articulation were not done properly in June causing residual effects in September. Additionally, OSEPO is a poor concept and an even worse reality.”

Wed, 9/3/08 1:21 PM

BRONX SCHOOL CHILDREN ‘LOST’ IN THE SYSTEM
Bronx Borough President Carrion to call on the Department of Education to remedy reoccurring problems that come up at the start of the school year

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. released a report entitled, "DO WE KNOW WHERE OUR CHILDREN ARE? An Analysis of Major Problems that Cause Children to get Lost in School System at the Start of the Year".This report documents beginning of school year issues and concerns expressed by frustrated principals throughout the borough.


For this report, the Borough President Office surveyed nearly 200 principals and found that problems are not just in individual schools, but are widespread throughout the Bronx.

Many of the principals surveyed found yellow school buses unreliable and difficult to deal with, causing students to be late for school and stuck on buses for hours. A large percentage of principals believe that poorly planned registration and enrollment policies are causing widespread confusion causing children not being enrolled. In addition too many students are not showing up during the first days of class or registering almost a month after school starts causing them to miss valuable time in school. Another main problem, according to the report, is that strict and complicated transfer processes are forcing too many students to stay in schools that do not have the services or program that they need.

“While the school year has just started, we feel secure in saying that the problems raised by principals are not likely to evaporate over time without significant reforms from the DOE. Simply put – DOE must listen to our school leaders and address the many issues raised within this report. Year, after year they continue to make the same mistakes and keep failing to correct them. .” Carrion said.

The Bronx Borough President Office conducted interviews with DOE officials and educational nonprofits, and held a focus group with Bronx school principals. In addition, all Bronx principals were surveyed, asking about previous and current problematic issues. According to the report: almost 70% of elementary school principals said late yellow school buses are causing serious problems for their schools; more than 50% of middle school principals reported that students can’t get into their own neighborhood schools because of overcrowding; over 70% of high school principals reported that students can’t get a transfer to a new school, even though they may face a personal hardship at their current school; and more than half of all school principals said that DOE changes to the enrollment process were causing problems for them.

Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum said: “I want to commend Adolfo Carrion for this important report and its sound recommendations. We have seen, year after year, repeated issues with school transportation, registration, and enrollment among others. Already, in the first two weeks of this school year, parents have been dealing with an ongoing problem in the Bronx because special education students are being denied placements. Those parents need and deserve answers from the DOE."

New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. added: “Despite the multiple reorganizations at the Department of Education, children, parents and principals face the same problems at the beginning of each school year. As the Borough President’s new report demonstrates, principals and parents are still having issues with bus service, transfer policies, and many other problems. DOE must work with parents and principals to ensure that future school years have a smooth start.”

Carrion explained that the goal of this reportis to unravel the recurring problems, and to urge DOE to work with principals to come up with solutions and begin tackling these problems before the next school year.

“More than half of Bronx’s principals responded to our survey and expressed frustration in dealing with the same problems year after year,” said Borough President Adolfo Carrion. “DOE needs to understand the challenges principals are facing and create meaningful solutions, they (principals) are on the front line of our education system and we need to listen to them”.

Some of the solutions offered by the reports are:

1. DOE must respond to excessive and repeated lateness and negligence of yellow school bus drivers. DOE must ensure bus drivers know their routes, children are assigned to the most convenient routes and bus company personnel are properly trained to supervise children.

2. The DOE must simplify enrollment and registration for parents and principals and do a better job of explaining new policies to parents and principals.

3. The DOE must respond quicker to situations where students are absent or register late at the start of the school year. Children that are absent or not registered at the start of the school year need to be tracked better and DOE must do more to follow up with parents to ensure students are in school and register on time.

4. The DOE must simplify the School Transfer Process. The DOE can do more to allow children who have legitimate reasons to transfer within practical limits, especially when it is recommended by principals.

For the Bronx Borough President Carrion, there is no doubt that some of these problems exist beyond school officials' control and that parents need to take a greater role in their children's schooling and daily lives. “But school officials and administrators can step up to deal with management practices that get in the way of running our schools.”

See report here: http://bronxboropres.nyc.gov/en/PDFs/BxBp-New_School_Year_Report-FINAL.pdf


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