Friday, September 14, 2012

How to Enroll a Child in the NYC School System

Step 1. Get packet of paperwork from DSS including birth certificate and immunization record (Which you then forget to take to the pediatrician when you go for initial checkup).

Step 2. Call the Board of Ed's info number to find out when you can register kid. Be told to go to local district school on the first day of school. Be assured that the local school can handle the kid's Individual Education Plan.

Step 3. Notice that the DSS person has noted to go to an administrative office. Call info number again. Be told to go to local school in the 2 weeks before first day of school. Be assured again that the local school can handle the kid's Individual Education Plan.

Step 4. Go to local district school only to be told to come back the next day at 7 am when they give out numbers. Only 14 numbers a day are given out.

Step 5. Seriously?

Step 6. Seriously

Step 7. His awesomeness takes the kid to the school at 7 am because trying to get her out of the house that early would reduce me to tears.

Step 8. HA discovers that we need to get an interim service plan (which none of us has ever heard of) from an inconveniently located administrative office, the kid is missing 2 immunizations and btw the list of immunizations was so badly copied that you can't see the names of the shots. This will require a second 7 am visit to the school.

Step 9. Leave irate message for DSS worker, furious at self for not checking, instead trusting the photocopying skills of strangers and the judgement of DSS workers.

Step 10 When DSS calls back, discover that DSS got a decent copy of the records and did a crappy job of copying them.

Step 11 Take child on subway to inconveniently located administrative office. Seriously, it's an hour by train or bus, but 24 minutes by bike, according to hopstop.

Step 12. Spend 2 hours talking to intake worker while a special ed teacher, shrink and other workers stop by. It's all hands on deck to get her case evaluated and entered into the computer system.

Step 13. Except that at the end of the 13 hours, she's still not in the computer system.

Step 14. Be told that they've decided to keep the kid in a 12 student classroom setting. They have to send her case to an office in Manhattan for a placement decision. We might not hear by the first day of school.

Step 15. First day of school. Place first of many calls to the placement office. Discover that they don't believe in returning voicemails, so you have to keep calling until they actually answer.

Step 16. Get through and find out the name and number of the guy in Brooklyn handling the case.

Step 17. Call that guy repeatedly, starting the second day of school. Push and press until he takes the extraordinary step of sending an additional email to the person in Manhattan. Be told that maybe we're not hearing anything because there's no desks for the kid anywhere, which means that they could stick her god knows where and if I object because they've given her a long commute with no chance to do any school activities, we're screwed because there wouldn't be anywhere else to place her.

Step 18. Watch kid get increasingly stressed out over not being in school, having no friends in the area and having nothing to do.

Step 19. A week later, after bringing the kid's Bridges to Health coordinator into the effort, discover that the person in Manhattan has been on jury duty with no one covering her work.

Step 20. Discover that the jury duty person's supervisor also received the emails from the guy in Brooklyn but did nothing.

Step 21. Get school assignment in Downtown Brooklyn, conveniently reachable by subway. Which is good because it'll take a few days for the bus service to kick in.

Step 22. Take child to school to register on a Friday before a four-day weekend (Rosh Hashanah, doncha know). 

Step 23. Wander around a bit because the entrance that matches the address of the school is unlocked, but is not in any way a main entrance.

Step 24. Find someone who tells you where the office is.

Step 25. Wait around. Finally start the intake process. Be handed a bunch of papers to fill out while someone tells your kid that the school requires "uniforms" (really a dress code).

Step 26. Do not fill out paperwork, but instead have a meltdown while finding out details of dress code. Kid owns exactly one shirt and no pants that fit the dress code.

Step 27. Kid agrees to dress code precisely because you're freaking out for her. And because she really wants to start school already.

Step 28. Still don't do paperwork because you have to write down more rules: no electronics, no more than $3 (no they are not kidding me). They're not allowed to bring in lunch.

Step 29. Ask to see a sample lunch menu since kid is quite picky and you want to be sure she'll actually eat. Be treated like you're the one being difficult.

Step 30. Start to fill out paperwork while kid and teacher go check out cafeteria and get menu. Be amazed that no one seems to care if kids choose to go hungry all day.

Step 31. Look over menu, which seems full of kiddie menu crap, some of which the kid will actually eat. Try to get kid to look at menu and promise she'll actually eat. Fail. 

Step 32. Teacher takes kid up to her class while you fill out more paperwork, some of which involves information you don't actually know.

Step 33. Get quick tour of school, including briefly meeting kid's new teacher and being shown the main entrance of the school, which is through the yard on a different street than the school's street address.

Step 34. Brace oneself for yet another wave of clothes shopping. 


  1. odsetsneCongratulations! If the uniform requires polo shirts check out Their delivery is incredibley fast and they are great to deal with.
    You can request a meeting to review her IEP at anytime. In 2-3 months is a good idea to see what's working out and what isn't. You can request small group sessions with guidance counselor and a couple other kids. Depending on the kids it's a great way to start friendships. As for the food, they can provide different options. The cafeteria people will help her along (used to save flavors of yogurt for my kid). The menues are on-line at the doe website.36 tremsrve

  2. Also the Office of Pupil Transportation is the most incompetent branch of the department of ed and uses contractors that are greedy, stupid and don't give a damn about the kids. Have their number ready. The people who take the calls are nice. Call every day there's a problem, get complaint numbers and keep a log. For every 3 complaints the contractors get fined. Thats the only way you can get them to move.

    Last summer I had to threaten to call TV stations to get the bus to arrive WITHIN 2 HOURS of their scheduled time. good luck.

    At an IEP discuss travel training to help her learn the transit system.

  3. omg. I almost burst into tears for you. That's a dumpster fire right there.


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