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Brooklyn school penalized after multiple students opt out of state testing

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SOUTH SLOPE, Brooklyn — New York City officials promised parents there would be no consequences if their child opted out of state testing.

But now parents are finding out that there are.

"I am alarmed that my school isn't getting the rewards because people chose to opt out because of the tests," parent Theresa Westerdahl told PIX11.

Westerdahl was shocked to find out that even though her daughter did not opt out of state testing, her South Slope school is being penalized by the New York State Education Department because 12 percent of her classmates did.

P.S. 10 is one of 16 schools who have lost their reward school status since they didn't have 95 percent of their students taking the state tests. And that means they may lose out on up to $75,000 in grant money.

"It's a shame and it's very unsettling, Tyndall Arrasmith," co-president of the PTA told PIX11.

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James wrote a letter to families in April saying there would be no consequences if they opted out, so now she is asking state educational officials to explain themselves.

"Parents when they opt out, it's a personal choice," NYC Public Advocate Letitia James told PIX11. "Their schools should not be penalized."

New York State education officials say to be eligible for the grant money, schools must meet all applicable participation rate requirements, which includes 95 percent of students taking state tests.

The state hasn't made public the list of schools that lost reward schools status, but it is believed many are in Brooklyn's District 15, including P.S. 107 in Park Slope and M.S. 447 in Boerum Hill.

"While we are disappointed," PTA co-president of P.S. 10 RoseAnn Ciarlante said, "we are going to compete in other ways."

A P.S. 10 parent mobilization committee is looking into researching all of this, including how they can get the reward school status back.