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City's Middle and High School Application Process Is Too Confusing: Mayor

By Nicole Levy | May 12, 2017 4:32pm | Updated on May 15, 2017 9:45am
 De Blasio said Thursday that when his children, Dante (left) and Chiara (right), were applying to middle and high school in New York City, they had a lot more options than children did 10 years prior.
De Blasio said Thursday that when his children, Dante (left) and Chiara (right), were applying to middle and high school in New York City, they had a lot more options than children did 10 years prior.
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Bill de Blasio Campaign

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city has made strides in improving the application process for middle and high schools — but the process is still too complicated, he acknowledged on his weekly radio address.

"We’ve put together a much more parent-friendly information and an easier application process. But that said, I want to make it a clearer process, still. There’s still way too much confusion," the mayor said on the "Brian Lehrer Show," speaking as both an elected official and a parent. 

Currently, students applying to high school in New York City can select up to 12 choices on their applications due in December, ranking them in order of preference, according to the city's Department of Education. Those who don't receive an offer in March, or are interested in pursuing other options, can fill out a "Round 2" application for a placement in May, but that process narrows their options significantly.

The process for middle schools is similar; families can appeal their placement by requesting a form from their elementary school guidance counselors. Problems arise in districts where the application process isn't blind, and schools won't consider students who don't rank them first or second on their lists. While high schools are banned from using a student's ranking of them on their list as grounds for rejection, some middle schools are still allowed to do so.

According to the records for Manhattan’s District 2, at least four of the 12 schools require students to put them as their first choice to even be considered. The rubrics apply to the 2016-2017 school year and could be modified for the coming year.

De Blasio said this week that he didn't have any specific ideas on how he would simplify the process.

But he said that parents should take full advantage of the first round of applications by listing as many schools as possible.

"I strongly advise you to fill out as many options as you are given, with as little preference ranking of what you want," de Blasio said. "If you get what you want, great. If you don’t, you have another bite at the apple. There is an appeal process. But parents who think it’s a good move to put very few options, actually I think are undermining their chances of getting to a result they want."