NEW YORK (PIX11) — Newcomers High School in Long Island City, Queens is one of several family welcome centers scattered across New York City.
Thousands of families, new migrants and longtime New Yorkers alike attempted to get their children registered for class Thursday on the first day of school, only to be turned away for a future appointment.
Leola said that’s exactly what she experienced early Thursday morning at the Morningside welcome center in Harlem.
“I’ve been up since like 6 o’clock in the morning. And they just give you a back and forth. It’s super crowded in there. It’s super sweaty. You would see a lot of immigrants. We go to the school, they tell me, ‘Oh well, there’s no more space here,'” said Leola, who lives in Harlem.
City school officials previously warned that some schools would unfortunately be at capacity on the first day, which would consequently force some students into schools outside their home zone.
“All schools are required to service their multilingual learners. So if the school has a seat, they also have to have a program in place to support those students,” said Melissa Ramos, the New York City Department of Education’s chief of staff.
School shuffling isn’t the only pressing issue, as the city prepares to absorb around 19,000 mostly Spanish speaking children of migrant families.
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday a policy change that allows teachers with language certifications to switch into a “English as a New Language” role – without losing their tenure.
“We’re activating a special group of teachers who already work in our schools. That is a very, very big deal,” said Banks.
Additionally, Department of Education officials said for this school year, they’ve so far hired 188 new ENL teachers (English as a New Language) and 175 new bilingual teachers (English / Spanish). Officials said there are also 260 new candidates in the pipeline.
Over the next 10 days, each school will be required to test and assess its non-English speaking students for their appropriate grade and their language skills.
If the test reveals 15 or more of those students at a school require ENL instruction, that school would then be eligible to add a new teacher to the roster.
With around 19,000 new migrant children in the system, it’s easy to see how that recruiting pipeline is going to become especially important this school year.