In 2012, the Department of Education took an important step to modify its student-assignment policies to address school segregation. New York Appleseed and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe were key players in helping community stakeholders develop an innovative plan for P.S. 133 in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
In the Fall of 2013, P.S. 133 moved into a new and larger facility, and the school’s enrollment tripled by drawing students from both community school districts 13 and 15. The proposal was in response to concerns that other high-preforming schools in Park Slope have become racially and socio-economically homogenous, giving little access to low-income students and English Language Learners (ELLs) from surrounding neighborhoods. The task force therefore requested that the enrollment policy for P.S. 133 give admissions preference to these students.
New York Appleseed convinced stakeholders to reject the false dichotomy of “zone” versus “choice”, both of which tend towards increased economic segregation in the city’s schools. Instead, New York Appleseed worked with stakeholders to secure a student-assignment plan that gives preference to low-income children and ELLs. New York Appleseed also assisted community stakeholders in responding to DOE concerns about legality.
The final admissions plan manages for diversity by giving limited preference to ELLs and students eligible for Free & Reduced Price Lunch. By providing admission preference based on socioeconomic indicators the plan was unprecedented under the prior administration. More important, the DOE was explicit that this plan could be a model for other schools across the city.