Parents, students upset about public high school assignments

The post office delivered more than letters and bills last weekend: It delivered hope and relief for some local parents, and frustration for many others whose children did not gain admittance into the public schools they wanted.

Amy Graff, who launched the SF K Files blog (http://thesfkfiles.blogspot.com/) to chronicle her process of choosing a kindergarten, learned that her daughter didn’t get into any of the seven schools she picked — instead, she is assigned to Junipero Serra, a school Graff hadn’t heard of before Saturday.

When she posted about her results, her blog was flooded with more than 200 comments from similarly frustrated parents.

“They say they try to place you as close to your neighborhood as possible,” said David Wang.

His daughter, entering ninth grade this fall, was assigned to International Studies Academy across the city from their home in the Sunset, rather than any of the four high schools they picked.

“Right now she’s so depressed, she won’t talk to anybody,” he said.

Roughly 13,250 parents applied to San Francisco Unified School District’s lottery system this year — 308 more than in 2007, according to data released last Friday. As a result, the competition was even fiercer: 82 percent was assigned one of their kindergarten picks, compared with 87 percent last year.

One reason for the boost in competition may be that local public schools have better reputations than they used to, said parent Caroline Grannan. “The number of schools middle-class parents find acceptable has increased so much,” she said.

However, more good choices doesn’t necessarily mean happy parents.

“We requested seven schools and didn’t get any of them,” said San Francisco resident N. Gilman, whose daughter is entering kindergarten.

The weekend mail didn’t bring bad news for everyone. Michael Wise’s son picked four high schools, including high-ranking Lowell and School of the Arts, and was accepted to both.

“He hasn’t said which one he’ll pick yet,” Wise said.

Both of Elaine Wong’s twins hoped to attend Lowell, but only one had the grades and test scores to make it. The other will attend Sacred Heart, but “is very upset — he really wants to go to Lowell.”

Many parents who weren’t assigned any of their top choices said they plan to appeal the decisions.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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