Update, 4/11/16: Parents will receive their children’s school assignments the week of April 11-15, the Recovery School District said.
Thousands of New Orleans families were left on edge this week after public school officials said they were postponing notifications about which campuses students will attend next school year.
The city’s common enrollment system, dubbed OneApp or Enroll NOLA, uses one application and a computer algorithm to place the city’s students into nearly all of its public schools.
During a main enrollment period and a second period for late arrivals, families rank up to eight schools on a single application, and a computer attempts to match them with their top choices, taking into account available space and any enrollment preferences that may apply.
While acceptance notifications for OneApp’s main round originally were scheduled to be out by Friday, the addition of 2,600 new preschool slots and 4,300 new preschool applicants this year has caused a holdup, Recovery School District Superintendent Patrick Dobard said.
It is the first time the application has featured all publicly funded New Orleans preschools, as per a 2012 state law aimed at coordinating early childhood education options.
The state-run RSD — which manages OneApp — plans to work through the weekend to verify computer-assigned enrollment placements. Officials will tell roughly 15,700 OneApp applicants Monday when to expect their results.
“We have chosen to delay sending results this week, in order to give us more time to review and verify every student placement,” Dobard said.
Typically, officials give themselves about a month to verify all computer matches, said Gabriela Fighetti, assistant superintendent and executive director of student enrollment. But they needed more time this year because of the preschool influx.
Preschool options include federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs, child care centers and preschool classes serving children aged from 6 weeks to 4 years.
Still, the delay frustrated many parents, who aired their grievances on Facebook. Some of them — already irritated after jumping through multiple hoops last year to enroll their children — said the deferral comes just as private school tuition deposits and registration fees must be paid to secure spots for next year.
With their public school placement up in the air, those families could spend thousands of dollars in private school fees that may be nonrefundable.
That already has happened to Allison Johnson, who moved to New Orleans in May and who has been scrambling ever since to enroll her three children in highly recommended schools. Two of her children were accepted at Audubon Charter School — one of the few public schools not included on OneApp — last week, after Johnson already had paid registration fees for all three at Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic school. She’s waiting on OneApp results to see if her youngest will get into Bricolage Academy.
As a military wife, Johnson has enrolled her children at schools all over the country. “But I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.