Every year before students are packed off to school, hundreds of parents and children pass through the city’s dozen registration centers in hopes of finding new schools.
Often, they are recent arrivals to the city, looking to enroll their children before the new school year begins. Others are long-time residents trying to shift a child from private to public school or from a school many subway transfers away to one closer to home.
In the auditorium of the American Sign Language and English Secondary School — one of the three centers in Manhattan — families waited for hours today as DOE officials examined their documents and searched for open slots. We’ll be following their and others’ efforts to find an empty seat before September 9.
- Maxine Shivers was making her second trip to the center in two days. Shivers, who is in the Army, has deployment orders that will take her overseas within the month, but before she goes she’s scrambling to transfer her daughter to a high school closer to where they live. Currently, her daughter is slated to begin ninth grade at the Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts (she wants to be a reporter), but that’s a long subway ride from their home in lower Manhattan, and one Shivers doesn’t want her daughter making alone. Distance is one of three reasons (along with safety and health) the DOE finds acceptable for requesting a transfer. Tomorrow her daughter has interviews at two high schools. “It’s up to her now,” Shivers said. If neither of those schools has an open seat, she’ll have to return to the registration center and assess what’s left.
- Formerly a Toronto resident, Marsha Henry’s job moved her to New York City and then let her go, complicating her daughter’s enrollment process. She has no permanent residence, her 13 year old’s immunization records are in storage, and her daughter doesn’t fly into New York until Tuesday, a day before school begins. Henry learned today, her second visit to the center, that she would have to bring all of these things — child, health records, proof of residence — to the registration center in order to even begin the enrollment process.
- Matthew, 12, and his twin sister are transferring from a private elementary school to public middle school this year. “It’s mostly for financial reasons, but there are some very good middle schools in our district,” said his mother, Lynn Walker. Though his twin sailed through the enrollment process, Matthew is still waiting for placement. “The process was disorganized and confusing,” Walker said, adding that different DOE officials had given her conflicting advice. Though her daughter was placed months ago, Walker is still trying to find Matthew a seat at School of the Future, a middle school in the Gramercy Park neighborhood.
- Mohammad Miah and his family were among the last to leave the center as its doors closed at 3 p.m. A tall, thin, 17 year old who just immigrated from Bangladesh, Miah is hoping to enroll at Liberty High School Academy for Newcomers, a school for international students.