Regarding the planned Department of Education rezoning of PS/IS 49 in Middle Village. PS49 Principal, Mr. Lombardi, acknowledged that many students attending PS49 come from outside the zone through false addresses. This was not a revelation; everyone knows this to be true. Mr. Lombardi had said that the school conducts investigations but that the people living at the given address are forewarned and that they tell the attendance teacher that the child lives there, and that is the end of it. Asking someone who breaks the law if they’re breaking the law does not seem like sound investigative procedure to me and, for once, the DOE agrees with me:

I spoke with the network attendance content expert and he told me that this does not constitute a satisfactory investigation. Other schools have their attendance teachers go into homes, look for items belonging to children, interview neighbors, etc. and those schools have been successful in alleviating overcrowding. Mr. Lombardi also stated that the school can do nothing after the child has been enrolled more than 30 days. This is incorrect.

The chancellor’s regulations clearly state the school has until 30 days after they suspect that the address was falsified. And finally, PS 49 needs to be aware that there is a report that the Pupil Personnel Secretary can and should run, to be given to the teachers to verify the students’ addresses. From what I understand, they are not currently doing this, and this is also, according to the Attendance Content Expert, good policy. I tell you all of this so that the school and its attendance teacher can fulfill their obligations to reduce overcrowding due to fraudulent addresses.

So, now that the school is aware of the steps that it can take to reduce the number of out-of-zone students, the CEC needs to vote down this rezoning. Allow the school to address the out-of-zone students, whom we all know are attending, and let’s see what affect that has on overcrowding. Even if these measures are not enough, and I am confident that they will be, we, the 400 signatories of this petition, still ask that the CEC vote no on the rezoning and we’ll take our chances with a lottery system. I understand that this means that instead of a handful of upset parents, that you will now have all of the parents upset. However, this is what PS49 needs.

All parents need to be vigilant about non-zoned students. I understand that some of the unzoned students and their parents may be your friends. But we are your friends AND neighbors. PS49 is a neighborhood school. Students who live in the zone receive first priority and everyone needs to do their part to ensure this happens: the school, the parents, the teachers, and the students all need to make sure that it stays a neighborhood school, or the next block to be removed from the zone could be yours. Please let’s address the overcrowding in the most fair and law-abiding way.