After outcries from parents and teachers, the city Department of Education and the Mayor’s office changed their tune on denying pre-K seats for siblings of students at a Bronx charter school.
While the DOE originally claimed the “community need does not justify the additional seats,” leaving dozens of Bronx kids without a seat at their siblings’ schools, on June 22, the city announced that it granted Zeta South Bronx’s request for 31 pre-K seats for siblings of students at the school.
This decision follows nearly two months of advocacy by families, teachers and staff to City Hall and the Department of Education (DOE) to keep families together and allow 31 children a seat at their siblings’ school. Zeta had initially been denied pre-K seats by the DOE just days before their April 4 admissions lottery was set to close.
“Today, Mayor Adams stood up for Bronx families, putting the needs of parents and students ahead of red tape and bureaucracy,” Emily A. Kim, founder and CEO of Zeta Charter Schools, said in a statement. “Thanks to Mayor (Eric) Adams, Chancellor (David) Banks, First Deputy Chancellor (Daniel) Weisberg, and Deputy Chancellor (Kara) Ahmed, dozens of Bronx preschoolers will get the chance to learn alongside their siblings, and families will be able to keep their kids learning together at Zeta South Bronx.
“This is a huge win for the Bronx community, and it would not have been possible without the persistent advocacy of Zeta families who rallied, wrote letters and made their voices heard for months. We are beyond thrilled to welcome the new Pre-K class to Zeta South Bronx this fall.”
Zeta South Bronx, an elementary and pre-K charter school located at 222 Alexander Ave. in Mott Haven, submitted a request to the DOE to serve five pre-K sections — 90 children — this September. The seats were in extraordinarily high demand as 348 families applied for their children to attend Zeta South Bronx’s pre-K program (nearly 6.5 applications per seat). Eighty-five of those applicants were siblings of current Zeta elementary school students.
The school is slated to move to a bigger location on Westchester Avenue this fall.
Elementary school students have had priority to attend their siblings’ school for several years in NYC and in 2018, that expanded to middle schools.
Reach Jason Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646) 899-8058. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes