City clarifies school sibling policy

The city did not violate its policies by automatically granting kindergarten seats to all siblings of current students at P.S. 234, a Dept. of Education spokesperson said this week.

The confusion over who should receive priority to attend P.S. 234 began when the city shrunk P.S. 234’s zone just before the kindergarten application process started in February. In general, first priority for kindergarten seats goes to in-zone students who have a sibling in the school, then to in-zone students with no sibling, then to out-of-zone students with a sibling, and finally to out-of-zone students with no sibling.

But if the D.O.E. had used the new, smaller zone for P.S. 234 to determine who got priority, then many siblings of current students would not have received a seat. So, the D.O.E. used the old, larger zone for P.S. 234 to determine priority, grandfathering in all siblings of current students who lived in that original zone.

The D.O.E. made this grandfathering policy clear at public meetings over the past six months. But when parents started receiving rejection and acceptance letters from P.S. 234 two weeks ago, they questioned whether the D.O.E. was supposed to give priority to siblings who are now technically out-of-zone.

In response to a Downtown Express inquiry on this two weeks ago, D.O.E. spokesperson Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld mistakenly said that out-of-zone siblings should not have received priority at P.S. 234. Downtown Express printed Zarin-Rosenfeld’s response in the March 26 – April 1 issue.

This week, however, Zarin-Rosenfeld said that in the case of a rezoning, the current students who are moved out-of-zone are still treated as in-zone students, so their siblings continue to be grandfathered in. That is the policy the D.O.E. followed for P.S. 234, he said.

— Julie Shapiro