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Frustrations Persist at 2nd Day of RSD Summer Enrollment

The scene at the second day of the Recovery School District’s open Summer Enrollment was eerily similar to Wednesay's fiasco. On Thursday (7-10) morning, fustrated parents lingered under the sleek glass entrance of Lake Area High School, some still angered by the lack of organization in the enrollment system, others relieved that they had at least gotten their child into a school. 


The RSD created the online application program, OneApp, for parents to place their children into school and in a way, prevent situations like this week's. But the program was untested and most were not able to successfully enroll their children online. Those parents, alongside families who had moved to the city this summer, looked to the open summer enrollment process as to get their children into a charter school. 


After being met with around 800 parents eager to enroll their children into an RSD charter school on Wednesday, the department was overwhelmed with the sheer volume of requests. Families began arriving at the RSD Family Resource Center early in the morning, around 6 and 7am, waiting in a five block long line, in the heat, for a chance at enrollment. By late afteroon, the process was stopped and parents were told go to Lake Area high school today, for continued enrollment. Those waiting were given numbered raffle tickets and told that they would be honored at the new location. 


Judy Grimes, who successfully enrolled her daughter at McDonough 35 on Thursday, was at both locations.


“Yesterday, I got there at 7am and by 10, they told me to go home because there was already 300 people inside and they couldn’t take anymore," she said. "Today, I got here at 8 and it took me about 4 hours to get this done.”


While there was not a five block line today, the process was still in shambles. Education advocate, Karran Harper Royal, had been at the school since around 7. She had spoke with parents who had arrived at Lake Area at 4am, hoping that they would be seen first. By 8, almost all of those who had been waiting in a block long line, were let inside. One parent, who declined to be named, had been given had been let in at 8, but by noon, she was still outside waiting to speak to someone. 


“This is ridiculous. I had one woman tell that she couldn’t come back after yesterday. She just couldn’t wait in line anymore. She had waited in the same lines after Katrina for food and water and the situation felt exactly the same to her. She just couldn’t face it again," said Royal. 


Once inside the school, parents were met by Recovery School District employees handing out blue numbered tickets. Almost every parent stopped at the table with a long list of questions about enrollment.  When asked how the day was going, the RSD employee was reluctant to talk. Eventually, they admitted that they weren’t too sure what was going on, but extra staff had been bought in from other school district departments to speed up the process and help out confused parents.  Even after waiting and reciving a ticket, some parents had to leave again to retrieve extra documents such as report cards and LEAP test scores — they had not been informed by officials that they would need those documents. 


At the door, exiting parent Jovan Johnigan, warned those coming in that it was still not working. “It’s just as bad as yesterday," she said. "They’re still on red ticket numbers from yesterday and they’re calling numbers for people who never showed up today. It seems like they haven’t even gotten to the blue ones yet.”


Karran Harper Royal’s niece arrived this morning hoping to enroll her two children in elementary school after moving home from Baton Rouge, nine years after the storm.  She successfully got them into a school on the West Bank, despite the fact that they reside on the East Bank.  Like Royal’s niece, at this point, most parents are simply settling for any school that their children can attend despite being told that they have a choice in placement with the open enrollment policy. 


For some parents, the debacle is still not over. Judy Grimes, even after enrolling her daughter, now has proceed to her daughter’s new school to register her there. “They told me I got 5 days to do this. After all that, I have to go register her again. And I’m doing this by bus too. This is insane.” 


Royal, who has been at both locations watching the situation unfold, decided to take action by organizing a parent meeting, held Thursday night at Beecher Memorial United Church of Christ in the Seventh Ward.


“I’m watching these employees from out of state trying to impose a system that isn’t designed for this city," she said. "We are not like the rest of America — those systems aren’t going to work here. As a community, we can’t just remain compliant anymore when things like this are happening. We have to push past ‘it’s just the way it is’ and do something.” 



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