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Keep Siblings Together in the Philadelphia School District

This petition had 249 supporters

We, the undersigned, offer this petition in support of enrollment that aims to keep families together in their neighborhood elementary and middle schools in a way that best meets and supports the needs of students, families, and staff. We propose that the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) commit to a tiered enrollment process for their lottery-based registration process to fill the available seats. There is no perfect solution when there are not enough spots for every child who registers. However, we believe that a tiered enrollment process with an emphasis on keeping siblings at the same school is the most equitable solution to the problem of surging enrollments.  The SDP already does this for transfers for out-of-catchment kids. We are asking the SDP to extend this policy for in-catchment students in the lottery-based registration process.

By adopting a tiered enrollment process that explicitly emphasizes the importance of siblings being at the same school as one of the most highly weighted factors in placement of children in neighborhood schools, Philadelphia would join other large cities, like New York City and Boston, in adopting a policy aimed at keeping siblings together. The tiered enrollment process outlined below is the one we propose the SDP adopt.

1.     Parents register for enrollment in their neighborhood school and provide proof of address pursuant to the current requirements. If there are enough spots for everyone who has registered with the proper proof of address, every family is offered spots for their children. If there are not enough spots, then the following additional steps would be taken to determine which families are offered spots.

 2.     Implement a method to verify continued in-catchment residency.

 3.     Conduct an open and public lottery (including a transparent published process for selecting and wait-listing families) with the following built-in tiers:

Tier 1: Students residing within the catchment who have an older sibling currently enrolled (or registered to be enrolled the following academic year) at their catchment school.

Tier 2: Students residing within the catchment boundaries with no older siblings currently enrolled at the catchment school.

Tier 3: Children of current teachers and staff that work in the target school.

Tier 4: Students living outside the catchment who have an older sibling currently enrolled at the target school.

Tier 5: Students living outside the catchment with no older sibling currently enrolled at the target school.

Twins (and other multiples) are treated as a unit (meaning they either both/all get in or don’t get in to the catchment/target school).

 4.     Implement supporting policies to mitigate any continued overcrowding as students rise into each next grade, such as requiring families to promptly notify the school of any change of address and having all families submit proof of address prior to the beginning of each new school year.

We hope the school admission process can be harmonized across the Philadelphia School District, aligning in-catchment sibling consideration with existing policies in place for the school selection process, so as to not separate siblings at such a young age, allowing them the chance to create shared experiences and stronger bonds, and be there for each other during the first year of school together.


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