Tempers flare as parents demand answers for Maspeth High fiasco at Ridgewood meeting

James Guarneri CEC meeting
Photos by Anthony Giudice/QNS

Frustrated parents got the chance to air their grievances over the Maspeth High School (MHS) admissions fiasco and get answers as to what happened from Department of Education (DOE) personnel during Tuesday’s Community Education Council (CEC) 24 meeting at P.S. 88 in Ridgewood.

Concerns regarding the MHS enrollment lottery arose when it was discovered that the school committed a “clerical error” which left 500 private school students from across the city out of the lottery (207 of whom attended a school information session).

Anger grew when students who did not meet the requirement for priority in the draft were matched to MHS, while students who fulfilled the requirements were passed over.

According to the DOE, 46 students from District 24 public schools who did not attend an information session were given offers to MHS, while only 323 offers were made to District 24 public school students who did attend an information session.

Chart provided by Department of Education
Chart provided by Department of Education

James Guarneri, whose son is a student at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village, was irate that his son was passed over for admission twice.

Guarneri wanted to know why his son, who met all the requirements to be marked for priority during the MHS admissions lottery, was first left out due to the “clerical error” since he attends a Catholic school, and then did not get selected again during the second lottery with the private school students.

Things got heated when Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley announced that she is drafting legislation to ensure that the admission process is more transparent and accessible in the future.

“I don’t care about the future, I care about his future,” Guarneri said, pointing to his son in the audience.

“Why did you wait to do it now?” asked Alicia Vaichunas. “In 2012 you said to the parents of Maspeth you will advocate for people from this community and you never did a thing.”

The issue is that more than 4,000 prospective students are applying for only approximately 250 seats. MHS is just too small to accommodate the number of students interested in attending.

Another option Crowley proposed to alleviate this kind of tension in the future was to look at expanding MHS.

“The two buildings near Maspeth High School are available,” Crowley said. “And School Construction Authority has been notified of their availability and is in the process of investigating the two building properties to see whether there could be a deal or an offer made to acquire those properties to expand the high school.”

Many parents left the meeting, however, just as frustrated as when they came in, as none of the answers provided would help their children who did not get into the school they wanted.