With students and schools displaced after Sandy, confusion over enrollment policies has kept some students from returning to class. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
On Thursday, for the first time since Oct. 26, every New York City public school was open. But nearly 200,000 students were still out, like a Coney Island third grader whose school building was damaged and relocated miles away in Bensonhurst. His elderly grandmother couldn't get him to the new site.
Because of a school bus shortage, P.S. 90, like the majority of the 43 relocated schools, is not providing transportation. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has been clear what the family should do.
"As chancellor, I would never advocate for anyone to keep their child home, even one extra day," Walcott said. "If there is a school that is open and near you, then you should be doing that, plain and simple."
They tried. P.S. 100, which is open and much closer to their home, turned them away. When NY1 called and asked the school about the policy, they told us the same thing.
"We can't take them," one administrator said. "That's what we were told."
Told by who? The DOE enrollment office. NY1 called and got the same answer.
"The schools that were relocated only have a choice of attending the school where it was relocated to," said a DOE enrollment official. "They don't have, they don't have the opportunity just to choose a different school."
The official said that only students whose families were displaced by the storm can enroll in different schools, not students whose schools were displaced by the storm. Again, not what the chancellor had been saying.
"You're able to go to that particular school near where you are living and enroll your child, and we're not going to ask for proof of address at all," Walcott said Tuesday. "You want that child in school and we want that child in school."
Thursday night, the DOE clarified that students do have the right to enroll in the nearest school they can get to. That will be welcome news for students at schools like P.S. 90, where just 28 percent of kids made it Thursday.
"I think we needed to be even more specific around it, and so we wanted to put it in writing, memorialize it so people have a clearer understanding, indicate that to the principal, indicate that to the parents," Walcott said.
Telling schools and enrollment offices to stop wrongly turning students away will mean more students will be finally be able to get back to class.
For a full list of openings and relocations, visit schools.nyc.gov or call 311.