Glitches frustrate Wake parents looking for student assignment results

Parents, students suffer multiple delays looking for updated results, tgoldsmith@newsobserver.comApril 27, 2012 

  • SEE THE RESULTS Updated Wake County student assignment results are now posted at Families who’ve forgotten their user name and password to look up the results can call Wake at (919) 431-7333 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Wake County parents went through a glitch-filled Thursday waiting to see if their children had gotten into the schools they want to attend this fall.

There were multiple delays in accessing updated student assignment results as school officials first missed their goal of having the data online Thursday afternoon and then had to shut the website down in the evening. School administrators rebooted the software after some families logged in and couldn’t see any results.

Wake is paying Michael Alves, whose Massachusetts-based firm develops controlled choice student assignment plans, $110,000 to use his software.

“The front end of the system wasn’t communicating with the back end,” said Cris Mulder, a Wake schools’ spokeswoman.

The news brought mixed results for parents.

The information was eagerly awaited by thousands who applied for the first time during round two, those didn’t receive an assignment in the first round, and families who were placed on a waiting list during round one for their first-choice school.

School officials say all 221 students who weren’t assigned a school during round one were given an assignment on Thursday. This group consisted of people not currently enrolled in the school system, such as children just entering kindergarten and students previously enrolled in charter schools and private schools.

Ellen Nightingale said she was relieved to find out that her son will get into Conn Elementary School in Raleigh. Citing a lack of seats in downtown Raleigh schools, some Oakwood and Mordecai families did not receive assignments in round one.

School officials scoured high-demand schools for additional space.

“It’s a diluted victory,” Nightingale said. “It was so hard to get through it.”

Lee Hogewood was happy his son got a seat at Martin Middle School in Raleigh, but feels the assignment plan needs to return to tying student addresses to specific schools.

The previous assignment plan also attempted to limit how many low-income students attended individual schools.

The new plan no longer ties student addresses to specific schools. Instead, families rank their schools of choice.

“If they had home addresses tied to specific schools, we wouldn’t have had to go through this,” Hogewood said.

Some families on waiting lists discovered Thursday that they only had moved up a few spots.

“I am beyond frustrated,” said Penny Cobb, whose son, a rising freshman, moved up from 21 to 18 on the waiting list for Millbrook High School in North Raleigh.

Despite the complaints, school administrators have said that the new assignment plan has worked for most families. They’ve cited 74 percent of the 19,000 applicants in the first round who were assigned their first choice. Figures reflecting second-round totals weren’t released Thursday.

Some members of the new Democratic majority on the school board that took office after the plan was adopted last fall say it’s too late to make major changes this school year, but say they might consider changes for the 2013-14 school year.

“It was ridiculous they had us go through this,” said Michael Thompson, who found out Thursday that his sons will now attend the same North Raleigh elementary school. “If they had flipped the switch on the program a month ago, we wouldn’t have had to suffer the way we did.”

Hui: 919-829-4534

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