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Throggs Neck girl lost in school system

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A girl who is living with her great aunt in Throggs Neck was turned away from Lehman High School in what is one of the many gaffs the Department of Education has made and Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. has highlighted, in a new, comprehensive report on the state of the Bronx’s and City’s schools.

On the steps of City Hall, Carrion joined with Comptroller William Thompson Jr., Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, parents, and schoolchildren on September 12 to call on the DOE to remedy reoccurring problems that have come up at the start of the new school year.

These concerns are the subject of Carrion’s new report: “Do We Know Where Our Children Are?: An Analysis of Major Problems that Cause Children to the Lost in the School System at the Start of the Year.”

“More than half of Bronx’s principals responded to our survey and expressed frustration in dealing with the same problems year after year,” Carrion said. “DOE needs to understand the challenges facing principals and create meaningful solutions.”

The report, surveying over 200 principals, documents countless issues school leaders face, from poorly-planned registration and enrollment polices causing widespread confusion, to unreliable school busses making students late to class.

One Throggs Neck 9th grader experienced the tumult caused by the haphazard start to the school year when she was denied access to Lehman High School, her zoned school. She is living with her great-aunt Wanda Brillion of Miles Avenue.

The 15-year old was granted a transfer on a 2008-09 DOE referral form from the school she was zoned for when she was living with her mother, Evader Childs campus on E. Gun Hill Road, because her mom works long hours far away in Queens and is unable to care for her. Her mother signed a legal affidavit highlighting her hardship in caring for her daughter.

Nevertheless, Brillion says when they went to Lehman High School to register, her niece was denied admittance.

“Lehman staff said it is not a travel hardship for my niece because she can take several buses to get to Evander Childs,” Brillion noted. “I am not going to leave my young niece to fend for herself.

According to Carrion’s report, Brillion’s experiences are not uncommon, as over 70% of high school principals surveyed reported students can’t get a transfer to a new school, even though they may face personal hardships at their other school.

In addition, more than half of the principals noted that DOE changes in the enrollment process were causing problems.

“This is a bureaucratic mess that we are paying for with taxes,” Brillion said. “I think the real problem is overcrowding. My niece is still a young girl, and the other children I care for who go to school in Throggs Neck need someone nearby in case of an emergency.”

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