Maspeth High School admissions snafu sparks a call for laws to boost transparency

Screenshot via YouTube/KenExcellence

As parents continue to fume over what has been described as a “clerical error” that left hundreds of prospective students out of the running to gain entrance to Maspeth High School (MHS), one lawmaker is calling on the Department of Education (DOE) to make sure this oversight doesn’t happen again.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley plans to submit two bills that would require the DOE to be more transparent with the application and student selection process, and to publicly disclose how its admissions algorithm is formulated and used to select students for high schools.

“We need greater transparency in the admission process so New York City families can rest assured that they are not being discriminated against,” Crowley said. “I stand with my constituents and call for real, meaningful change.”

The first proposed bill would require the DOE to post the application process for admission to each public high school on the department’s website, and to disclose the number of applications received along with the number of students admitted each school year. The legislation also requires that lotteries for admittance — such as the one held for MHS — be held in a public setting where students and parents can attend to witness the results.

The second proposed piece of legislation would mandate that the DOE disclose the ZIP codes of students admitted to zoned high schools each school year on its website.

Earlier this month, it was discovered that the admissions lottery at MHS did not include 207 students who should have been a part of the selection process. DOE quickly fixed the problem and added in those students, 66 of whom received offers to the school.

“It is unacceptable that any student is denied the chance to go to the high school of their choice, whether they come from parochial, private or public education,” Crowley said. “When human error is responsible for excluding a group of students, someone must be held accountable. Policy must be put into place to ensure this does not happen again.”

Crowley said the bills are in the process of being drafted for introduction into the City Council.

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