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CPS Blames Incomplete Forms for Tossed Selective-Enrollment Applications

By Mauricio Peña | March 2, 2015 2:09pm | Updated on March 3, 2015 9:18am
 Parents plan to meet with CPS Tuesday about selective-enrollment school applications rejected as
Parents plan to meet with CPS Tuesday about selective-enrollment school applications rejected as "incomplete."
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CHICAGO — Some Chicago parents will meet with Chicago Public Schools officials after their children's applications to the city's selective-enrollment schools were deemed "incomplete" by the district.

Norwood Park resident and parent Antonio Allen said that CPS changed its application process and now required parents to select a specific school when submitting their child's application. The problem, he said in an email to school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, was that a "computer glitch" might have allowed parents to submit the applications without selecting a school.

These CPS students were notified by CPS's Office of Access and Enrollment that their selective-enrollment applications would not be considered because they were incomplete, Allen said.

CPS officials said late Monday that it was up to the families to make sure their students' applications were complete. They said they did attempt to notify the more than 1,200 families whose applications were incomplete — and said that more than 400 then finished the applications. 

"From the outset, CPS notified parents that it is their responsibility to both schedule a testing time and apply for selective enrollment programs," said Michael Passman, a Chicago Public School spokesman.

Jessica Roubitchek, of Bucktown, said while filling out her daughter's application she was blocked out from selecting schools.

"It said we had to take the test before selecting schools," Roubitchek said. "But after taking the test we didn't hear back from CPS to confirm the next step until I received the letter last week stating that my daughter was ineligible because we never applied."

Roubitchek said she received several emails and calls with instructions leading up to her daughter's test but nothing informing her that the application was incomplete.

"Why would I intend for my daughter to take such a rigorous test, without intending to apply?" Roubitchek said.

After reaching out to CPS, Roubitchek, like other parents, was informed that, at this point, nothing could be done.

"They basically said, 'You're out of luck," Roubitchek said. "They were very unapologetic about it."

After hearing that many other parents were affected by what Roubitchek called a "flawed" application process, she called for CPS to be make the process more abundantly clear.

Parent William Zolla said  "after signing a student up to take a test, the website indicated the application was complete and did not provide a link to the school selection form, which is the reason these applications are being deemed incomplete."

"What is most infuriating is CPS's absolute refusal to allow parents to simply submit a late school selection form, even though parents had until Feb. 27 to submit amended forms," Zolla said.

CPS parent Kim Morrow, of Lincoln Park, also was surprised to hear her application was tossed.

"We received an email saying registration was complete," Morrow said. "My daughter took the two-plus-hour test; at no point after she took the test were we notified that application was incomplete."

Morrow said she received general letters and robocalls like other parents with deadline information.

"There's a discrepancy and a miscommunication with the new system," Morrow said.

"We are not asking for special treatment, we just want the opportunity for the test score to be submitted."

"Whether it was a computer error, or a human error, we are asking CPS to please fix it," Morrow said.

CPS officials said at least 80,400 successfully completed this year's selective enrollment application.

Ahead of the application, CPS provided families with instructional videos and guidelines on filling out the revised application, said Michael Passman, a Chicago Public School spokesman.

"In an effort to notify parents that their child's application was not complete, CPS sent emails and made robocalls to 1,271 families notifying them that their applications would not be considered complete until they applied to specific programs," Passman said.

Following examination registration, families were notified if an application failed to include a specific program, Passman said.

"Of the families who received the robocalls, 446 of the families submitted completed applications before the deadline," Passman said.

Passman said, "if selective enrollment seats remain after eligible applications are evaluated, this group of families will have an opportunity to apply for the remaining seats."

Parents are scheduled to meet with CPS officials Tuesday morning.

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