Parents furious over pre-K cuts at PS 101

Parents furious over pre-K cuts at PS 101
Photo by Alice Proujansky

Angry parents are demanding the city bus their kids to a pre-Kindergarten program after the Department of Education shifted classes from a nearby school to one that’s 25 blocks away — but the city says that if the parents want to send their children to class, they’ll have to get them their themselves.

Parents whose four- and five-year-olds children were promised seats at PS 101, between Bay 35th Street and 24th Avenue, have been given first dibs on slots at a pre-K program at PS 216 on Avenue X after the city abruptly moved the classes to make room for older students at 101. But parents say the guaranteed seats at the further away school not enough.

“If we have to go to PS 216 the least they can do is provide a bus,” said Lan Huang, one of about a dozen parents who protested outside PS 101 last week. “I’m not happy about it.”

In June, Huang and other parents received letters admitting their children into the fall program But last month the Education Department notified them that their seats had been eliminated due to space constraints.

Department of Education Spokesman Frank Thomas said the school needed two of its four pre-K classrooms to accommodate fourth grade students.

Buses are not provided to pre-K students anywhere in the city, according to Thomas, and the city won’t make an exception for PS 101 students — even though they won’t be going to the school they applied for.

That left parents — and one lawmaker — wondering how they would get to and from PS 216.

“It’s outrageous that parents would have to put up with that hardship,” said Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst). “The city needs to make it right.”

A disgruntled parent of a four-year-old agreed.

“They’re just saying take it or leave it,” said Yee Wong, who’s home is within walking distance of PS 101. “[The city] is not working with us.”

But pre-K classes, which are provided free by the city, aren’t mandatory, and no parent is being forced to send their child to the far off school, so some parents are happy they still have a place to bring their kid — even if it’s a bit of a hardship.

“I could have dropped my son off [at PS 101] no problem,” said Denise Dorazio, who is going to go the extra mile to get her child to school. “I’m grateful that I still have a seat, but the fact that they moved me around is not helpful.”

PS 101 parent Annie Leung declined the city’s offer to send her daughters Samantha Due, 5 and Adrianna Due, 4, to an alternative pre-K program at PS 216.
Photo by Alice Proujansky