New York City mistakenly told parents at struggling schools they could transfer out

New York City’s education department erroneously sent letters to some parents telling them they had the right to request transferring their children to higher-performing schools, Chancellor Richard Carranza acknowledged in a Friday afternoon tweet.

The letters were sent to parents at schools that were recently designated as struggling by the state, but the students won’t actually be able to transfer purely because their school is low performing, city officials said. It was not immediately clear how many were sent out.

“We know the way to lift up students is to invest in schools & keep communities strong — not to discourage enrollment,” Carranza wrote. “We apologize to families who recently received a letter that incorrectly suggested otherwise.”

Carranza added that “families who received this letter will hear from us again very soon.” Officials said resources would be available to help parents take advantage of different transfer options if they are interested.

Under the state’s new rules governing struggling schools, local districts were given more flexibility about whether they had to give parents at low-performing schools the option to transfer to more successful ones.

Districts are only required to offer parents this option if they attend one of the state’s lowest-performing schools and the school sees student achievement slip for two consecutive years, according to the state’s plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. It was not immediately clear why the letters in New York City went out.

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the state’s education department, declined to comment Friday.

Historically, few New York City parents have taken advantage of their right to request a transfer out of struggling schools. Will Mantell, an education department spokesman, said 200 students transferred using that option last school year, or about 1 percent of those who received letters.

Driving families away from certain schools can have long-term consequences, since the education department has previously cited low enrollment as one reason for school closures.