Parents Want Clarity On Admissions Policy Of Philly School

Parents Want Clarity On Admissions Policy Of Popular Philly School

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Parents are seen leaving a school district meeting regarding admissions to Penn Alexander Tuesday. Parents are seen leaving a school district meeting regarding admissions to Penn Alexander Tuesday.
PHILADELPHIA -

It could be weeks before Philadelphia School District officials decide whether to admit children to the popular kindergarten program at Penn Alexander school in West Philadelphia, based on their parents' place in line last week, or a "luck of the draw" lottery.

District officials got feedback from dozens of parents at a 90–minute meeting at the school on 42nd and Spruce Tuesday morning, but made clear no decision was imminent.

FOX 29 cameras were barred from the meeting, but outside the school, it was clear, parents are nervous about their chances.

Lorrie Kim has a daughter in third grade at Penn Alexander and another daughter who wants to attend kindergarten there this fall.

"She wants to know what she's looking forward to next year, what's she's going to be wearing, if she's going to get to do everything her older sister has done."

And Kim has no answers.

Last Friday night, dozens of neighborhood parents began camping out to be first in line for fewer than 70 kindergarten admission slots at Penn Alexander, to take advantage of the school's traditional, first-come, first-served policy.

But the district abruptly changed the rules- announcing admission would now be determined by a lottery-- the luck of the draw.

Why the change?

"Equity and safety," says the district's chief of student support services, Karyn Lynch. "You know, obviously, the weather was fairly cold this weekend, but also the equity- the parents that live in the catchment area that aren't able to wait in line."

In fact, many of the parents who camped out in that line admit not everyone could afford to invest that time on behalf of their children.

But they believe the district's hasty decision to change the rules in mid-stream was unfair.

Penn Alexander is a rare jewel in the Philly system: an award-winning K-8 school in a modern facility with financial support from the nearby University of Pennsylvania.

Which is why parents are going the extra mile to get their kids in.

"I'm very disgusted with the system and how it's turned out," parent Dana Henson told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "No child should be left behind and I think, quite frankly that that's what's happening."

"Because not all schools are as desirable as this one?" Gordon asked.

"Yeah!"

The formal deadline for applications at Penn Alexander is in April, but parents told district officials they want clarity on the admissions policy much earlier.

Deadlines for admission at other kindergarten programs are rapidly approaching, meaning parents/children shut out at Penn Alexander, could be left out in the cold.

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