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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Pupils stranded in power struggle with DOE

By Sarina Trangle

I dare you to discharge my kindergartner.

PS 340 parents are challenging the Department of Education by defying mid-year transfers that disregard several chancellor’s regulations. And the DOE is not backing down. 

After nearly two weeks of PS 340 parents ignoring a Nov. 15 notice informing them that their kindergartners must move to PS 310 in Marble Hill, the DOE threatened to leave the 19 kindergartners without any school to attend. 

Despite the threats of discharge, parents vow to continue dropping their children off at the Kingsbridge Heights school and pitting the DOE against its own regulations, which forbid PS 340 from removing students from its register until another school calls to confirm their enrollment. 

“Nobody is appreciating getting shuffled around like a deck of cards,” said PS 340 PTA president Terry Moss. “When people bully you, you have to get to a point where you say, ‘You know what? That’s enough.’ We’re at that point.’”

Last month the DOE sent letters home to 19 PS 340 parents notifying them that the school’s kindergarten had been capped. The notice said that due to overcrowding their children were required to attend PS 310 beginning days later, on Nov. 19.  

Hours after the letters went out, more than 50 parents and supporters spoke out against the mid-year transfers at the District 10 Community Education Council meeting. Multiple parents said their children were in tears at the prospect of being pulled away from siblings, friends and teachers at a high-performing school they were zoned to attend. The three-day notice enraged many, who said the DOE was aware of crowding issues last June and refused to use available space at PS 86, which is hundreds of feet away from PS 340.

District 10 CEC President Marvin Shelton concluded the meeting by saying he was concerned the transfers violated chancellor’s regulations by not honoring safety-related transfers; ignoring the last-in-first-out-policy for enrollment; and breaking up siblings.

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