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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Charter kids shut out of summer school

By Sarina Trangle

The Department of Education is quick to say charter schools are public schools, so it came as a shock to Tech International Charter School parents that this wasn’t the case when summer school seats are at stake.

Because their children did not score high enough to pass state exams or were recommended for additional instruction this summer, at least 10 TI parents attempted to enroll their child in a DOE-run school. Some gave up, others went through several schools before their child was accepted.

Though not required, the DOE has traditionally enrolled charter and private school students in summer school classes with open seats at no cost to their parents. The department reimburses district schools for taking these students, but it doesn’t budget for them ahead of time, which may put DOE schools in a budgetary bind. At least that’s what they indicated to parents at TI, a Corlear Avenue middle school that focuses on technology and international cultures.  

Laura Lazar Kearns, a Van Cortlandt Village resident, said her daughter did not pass the state math exam and needed to get into summer school so she could start seventh grade with her peers. 

As instructed, Ms. Lazar Kearns tried to register her daughter at her zoned school, Sheila Mencher Van Cortlandt School, PS/MS 95, before June 26. 

PS/MS 95 staff told her to check back on July 8, the first day of summer school, to see if they had any seats left over after enrolling district students. 

Come July 8, PS/MS 95 had too many students to accommodate Ms. Lazar Kearns’ kid. The school helped her get in touch with MS 80 staff running a program in the PS/MS 95 building. Ms. Lazar Kearns’ child spent two days in an MS 80 class before being sent home with a memo noting the school didn’t have space for her daughter.

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