The Department of Education suddenly nixed a series of parent meetings on high school admissions Wednesday — just a day after announcing them.
Already frustrated by an ongoing lack of clarity on entry criteria for next year, parents said they were shocked by the postponement.
“This is sadistic,” said Deborah Alexander, president of Community Education Council 30 in Queens. “We have been waiting for eight months at this point.”
The department said Wednesday that they scrapped the virtual sessions because they’ve yet to settle on admissions policies.
“Postponing these meetings until we have an admissions policy is common sense, and we look forward to holding them soon, once we have more information to share,” said spokesperson Katie O’Hanlon. “These meetings were organized earlier this year and will be rescheduled.”
Parents were especially taken aback by the move because the DOE sent out alerts for the meetings on Tuesday.
The DOE emailed flyers advertising 10 informational sessions for parents to be held between November 16 and December 19.
But families who clicked a signup link Wednesday were greeted with a message announcing their indefinite postponement.
“Thank you for your interest in an admissions information session,” the note read. “These events have been postponed until further notice and we will notify you once they are rescheduled. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
The message then advertised a series of online videos to help parents navigate the often byzantine admissions process.
“Good news!” the note exclaimed. “We made the information from these presentations available as a video series that you can watch anytime, from anywhere. These videos walk you through how to participate in the admissions processes for high schools and Specialized High Schools.”
But parents said DOE video clips won’t cut it.
“What have they been doing all this time that they don’t have this basic information?” Alexander said. “We need to give these kids some footing. We are talking about a lot of families here. This isn’t some niche group. This is all high schools.”
The DOE has not yet provided any specific information for screened school admissions for any grade level.
Parents said this void has made it impossible to begin the process of evaluating and applying for schools.
Screened admissions have become a contentious political topic in recent years, with critics arguing that they benefit kids of means and elbow out black and Latino applicants.
Backers counter that many top city schools with competitive admissions have high immigrant and low-income enrollment.
The DOE has said that it will tailor screened school admissions to account for the impact of the coronavirus.
Many traditional metrics like grades and standardized test scores have either been overhauled or cancelled outright due to the pandemic.
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