The parents of more than three dozen children who were awarded places in the highly coveted prekindergarten program at Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy will have to try their luck in the lottery again because of a computer error, school officials said Monday.
The original lottery for 40 available spots was held in May, and the parents whose children were selected were notified May 31. But officials later discovered that not all of the 95 students whose first choice was Kenner Discovery had been put in the system, said Ted Beasley, a Jefferson Parish public school system spokesman.
The system began notifying parents last week that their 4-year-olds were no longer guaranteed a place in the school and that the lottery would have to be held again, Beasley said.
The new lottery is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Emenes building on Clearview Parkway in Harahan.
"In an effort to provide all families who selected Kenner Discovery as their first choice with fair access, we will run the lottery again after all system errors are corrected," said an email sent to parents.
Unlike the first lottery, the second one will be open to the public, Beasley said. After all the parents were contacted, the parents of 72 students elected to re-enter the lottery.
Some parents, especially those whose children had been awarded places in the school, were unhappy with the situation.
"Our kids should not be punished," said one parent who didn't want to be named because she is still hoping to gain a seat at the school. "The right thing to do is to keep it as it is."
She said that stress over enrollment has robbed her of sleep and given her headaches.
Parents who were given places and now have to go through the lottery again have been trying to get the school system to back down and preserve their seats. "We're trying to stop this," the parent said.
The pre-K admissions at Kenner Discovery are the only ones handled by the school system. For later grades, the school handles its own admissions.
The highly rated charter school is one of the most sought-after in Jefferson Parish. Awarded a charter in 2010, it has consistently ranked as one of the highest-performing schools in the parish. In the most recent school accountability scores provided by the state, it earned an A rating.
Earlier this month, the school signed an amended agreement with the parish school system after Superintendent Cade Brumley expressed concern the school wasn't meeting targets related to enrollment of economically disadvantaged students.
Most of the students in the pre-K program are economically disadvantaged, Beasley said.