The fate of those on the Penn Alexander School’s competitive waitlist is unclear for now, two weeks before school is set to start.
West Philly Local reported that Penn Alexander — which was founded in a partnership between Penn and the School District of Philadelphia — abolished its waitlist this week and instructed parents to contact the school immediately. The local news outlet cited Terrilyn McCormick, the chair of Penn Alexander’s School Advisory Council, as its sole source.
However, The Daily Pennsylvanian has been unable to confirm the report, despite dozens of calls to school district officials, Penn Alexander administrators and advisory board members. McCormick did not return a message left on her home phone.
Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard could not confirm that Alexander had abolished its wait list. Gallard first said he did not have any information, though his office was actively looking into the matter and attempting to independently confirm the policy change. Later, in a message, he remarked “the … waiting list has not been lost. We still have it.”
As of press time, he has not responded to requests for clarification and further comment.
Similarly, Dawn Deitch, the director of Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs, had not been informed of any change in the waiting list policy. “There’s no news here,” she said in an email.
This change follows the implementation of a controversial lottery system Jan. 18, a switch from previous years’ first-come, first-serve line to register for kindergarten. Parents were notified of the lottery — in which students were chosen at random to be a part of the next year’s class — as they stood in line in the cold outside of the school, waiting to register.
While operated by the Philadelphia School District, Penn provides $1,330 per student each year to the school, one of the best-performing in the city.
Staff writer Will Marble contributed reporting.
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