Frustrated parents wait hours to enroll children in schools, only to be turned away

Susanna Howard of Mid-City shows the paper that Recovery School District employees handed her after she waited hours to change her niece's school.

Matt Higgins / The Lens

Susanna Howard of Mid-City shows the paper that Recovery School District employees handed her after she waited hours to change her niece's school.

Hundreds of parents showed up at the Recovery School District’s Family Resource Center in the St. Roch neighborhood Wednesday to enroll their children in school, only to leave frustrated, angry and still without a seat in a classroom next year.

According to several parents, the line outside the center at 2521 Marais St. extended around the block as early as 7:30 Wednesday morning, when the center opened.

The office was supposed to be open until 5 p.m., but parents were turned away hours before.

They were told to try again Thursday at Lake Area New Tech Early College High School, a larger facility.

“They have more space; they can serve more folks,” said Recovery School District spokeswoman Zoey Reed.

About 800 parents showed up, Reed said. Based on the past two years, the district was expecting about 100.

Christina George, who lives in eastern New Orleans, said she had waited in line since 6:45 a.m. but couldn’t enroll her three children. “This is crazy, and I’m fed up!” she said.

Enrollment at most New Orleans schools is handled through OneApp. That process starts in December, and those deadlines have already passed.

Starting Wednesday, anyone who wants to switch schools or enroll for the first time — such as families moving to New Orleans — must do so in person. It’s first-come, first-served.

Susanna Howard said she wanted to move her niece from Joseph A. Craig Charter School in Treme to a school closer to her home in Mid-City.

She said she was in line before 7 a.m., but when she got to the door about 8 a.m., she was turned away. Howard said that only the first 300 were allowed to enroll today, which Reed confirmed.

Howard waited until 1 p.m. to get a number for her place in line on Thursday.

“People had to come from all over — Uptown, New Orleans East — to this parenting center,” she said. “That’s wrong! Why did they have to close the [other] parenting centers?”

Community activist Karran Harper Royal waited outside the center to talk to parents and assist them as she could.

“Why did the RSD close schools when there is a need for seats?” she asked, referring to the RSD’s decision to the last few schools under its direct control, leaving only charter schools.

Uptown resident Marcel Reed also failed to get his daughter registered.

“We might go through the same thing we did today at Paris Avenue,” he said. “This is a major problem because we got to get these kids in school.”

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  • nickelndime

    Where is Zoe Reed, spokesperson for the RSD – just when we need her the most? I love Zoe’s take on how wonderfully the RSD/State is progressing – how much things have improved. What’s that you say? This glitch – this snafu – involves only a mere 2% of the applicants? And where is Gabrielle FibberMagee – in charge of admissions process and OneApp- oh, I can’t get the name straight – we have been in line for so long – where are the snowballs?

  • disqus_pn1er9XdzT

    You’re so desperate you’re making fun of people’s names? These are hard working professionals. You’re just an ineffective bully with nothing important to say. Keep bastardizing people’s names to reflect your political stance against charter schools. Makes your points so much more powerful.

  • nickelndime

    I couldn’t remember Gabrielle’s last name and didn’t have time to look it up and FibberMagee is so…how shall I say it without sounding like a bully?…FITTING! I haven’t seen anyone in the RSD who fits the description of “hard working professionals.” Are you sure they are there? You sound committed. And oh yeah, I misspelled Zoe(y), and yes, I am still making fun of her! I think somebody should have pointed Zoey out to the desperate, worn, exhausted, hungry, thirsty crowd as a “top” RSD employee and one of the ones responsible for this man-made disaster! Gabrielle’s last name begins with “F.” No silly, it has more than four letters!

  • nickelndime

    Gabriela Fighetti is the RSD Executive Director of Student Enrollment. She’s the one responsible for the summer enrollment disaster/catastrophe, although she wrote a letter (Letters to the Editor) of the Times-Picayune/ (July 12, 2014) and said, WE did this and WE did that, and next time WE will do this and WE won’t do that..! The mistakes just keep happening, and you cannot beat those 6-figure salaries for “on-the-job training.” The OPSB used to do this kind of thing, and look what happened to them!