A group of concerned parents and community members plan to rally outside of the University Council meeting at Houston Hall this Wednesday in protest of the new system of lottery registration at the Penn Alexander School.
The rally is set to start at 5:30 p.m. and will coincide with an open forum hosted by the council, at which Associate Professor of Neurology Michael McGarvey will be raising the question of “Penn’s commitment to the Faculty, Staff, Students and Alumni who live in Penn Alexander catchment area.”
The competitive West Philadelphia prekindergarten through eighth grade public school was formed in 1998 through a partnership between Penn and the School District of Philadelphia.
Last month, when the School District unexpectedly switched the registration from a first-come, first-serve system to a lottery, many neighborhood parents were upset.
Currently, there are only 72 open spots for the four kindergarten classes at PAS. The parents of the 88 children who registered voiced their distress in a press release.
“We are opposed to the lottery,” it read. “We are opposed to the lack of transparency in which the lottery was conducted.”
They have also requested that “seats be added to accommodate 22 kindergarten students per class.”
The release added that Penn Alexander is a neighborhood school, however, and not a charter. The parents believe, therefore, that it should be able to serve all the children within the “catchment zone” — the area within which students must live to attend the school. Penn supports the school — to which many Penn faculty send their children — and pays $1,300 annually for each student. In addition, Penn agreed to finance a fourth kindergarten class last year — for which it pays an additional $120,000 each year.