The Department of Education has expanded its transfer policy for students in phase-out schools, allowing all students to apply to new schools starting this spring rather than granting the privilege only to students attending low-performing "priority" or "status" schools, as deemed by the state, or Title 1 schools.
Students will receive an application in the mail in March, after the Panel for Educational Policy votes on which schools to close. Students will only be able to apply to unscreened schools.
"We do this because of a moral imperative, we feel, to provide all families with options," said Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg, "and we feel the same commitment to the child in the phase-out school that we do to all children across the city."
Sternberg said he would start to get the word out about the policy this evening, the first night of public hearings for schools proposed to close.
What is particularly notable about the new policy, he added, is the fact that students from schools in the process of phasing out will get "first-in-line status" at their new school of choice. Also, lower performing students in phase-out schools will get priority in the choice process.
Assuming the P.E.P. votes to close the 24 schools on the chopping block this year, a total of about 16,000 students from those schools and schools already phasing-out will have the option to apply for a transfer.
Not all students, however, will be guaranteed another spot, Sternberg said, citing a lack of seats.
Students who apply this spring would find out about their placement before the end of the school year in June. A D.O.E. spokesperson was not able to provide the exact number of students currently eligible to transfer from phase-out schools who choose to do so but suggested the number was low.
The policy shift comes amid criticism of the department's school closure process. Critics, including the teachers' union, have said the D.O.E. does not do enough to support the students and teachers in schools that are in the process of phasing out.