Should I accept defeat? (daughter's school placement)long

Allow me to confess up front that there will be sneak bragging in this thread. I try not to toot my or my daughter’s horn, as I usually find such behavior not only impolite, but furthermore, pointless, since every mom thinks their kid is talented. Nevertheless, there will be some talking up the kid, here.

So, I will tell the whole long story, and you all just keep it real with me and let me know if I should accept the situation and chalk it up to teaching my daughter to accept things like this happen.

My daughter wanted to attend a school in our city called School of the Arts. I went to this school myself as a kid. It focuses on stuff like drama, music, creative writing, etc. It’s a great school. Academically it is good, but it’s attention to the arts is really impressive.

My daughter took violin for years, but since you can only choose one talent to audition with, she chose Creative Writing. She chose it because she loves it, she really is good at it (I used to write poems for her, I remember when I realized how she is a true poet and I’m the kind of hack that should be embarrassed to show her my stuff) and her teacher would call me out of the blue to tell me that my daughter is so good that she can see her as a published writer one day, no problem.

So, she’s good. I took her to the auditions, and they took her away with dozens of other kids for a classroom type audition, and then she was back, confident she had done well.

Several weeks later I received a letter from Student Placement, telling me she was accepted. Yay! I had let the kid open the letter herself, so she was thrilled, we were thrilled.

One day, on a lark, I decided to look up the audition results on the SOTA website…My daughter’s number wasn’t on there.

This is where it gets sticky, so follow me:

SOTA is the school that auditions the children. After the children qualify, it is Student Placement with the City School District which PLACES them. Student placement is the end all be all.

I called SOTA and said, “I received an acceptance letter, but I don’t see my kid’s name on your website” The vice principal said, “All placements are handled through Student Placement”

I said, “Yes, but surely, you could check to see if she qualified…”

“No, sorry. This rests entirely in Student Placement’s lap. You need to call them. They are the only ones that can put your kid’s name on the list for SOTA”

So I called SP. The head guy told me to fax in my acceptance letter. I did. He assured me he would put my daughter back on the list. I emailed him that I do appreciate his help, but could he confirm with an email, in writing?

He did so. He showed me where she was initially in SOTA, transfered out to another school, and transfered back in to SOTA on that date. All of it was there on my email. I thanked him.

Fast foward a few weeks, and I never received any mail or schedule or class info from SOTA. I got nervous and called them. The vice principal said, “You have to call Student Placement.”

I called them and the secretary checked and assured me my kid was on the list for SOTA. Great. I will wait for the paperwork in the mail containing her schedule and everything.

That was yesterday. Today, I got a call from Student Placement. It was the secretary; “I have bad news. Your child is not on the list for SOTA. There’s been a mistake, and she won’t be able to go to that school. Sorry”

I asked for the head guy I had spoken to before, but she said he’s out. I left a voicemail.

I called SOTA and got the vice principal.

Me: "Is my daughter no longer on the list for your school?
Him: “Sorry, no. Like I told you at the beginning of the summer, her scores didn’t qualify her.”
Me: you never told me that.
Him: Please don’t question my integrety. I’m not a liar.

At that point, I broke into tears. I know, I know, big mistake. I know I shouldn’t have done that, and I make no excuses. Just a weak move on my part. He said, he feels bad, but this is NOT going to change. Good luck next year.

So, what is my next step? Accept the reality that there has been a mistake and my baby didn’t make it? Or fight this…asking for the Principal and things like that.

I think I know that the answer is acceptance. I guess I hope someone tells me different. I know this is long and not a very interesting topic, but is there anyone who wants to pitch in some advice?

You know the answer. You aren’t going to get anywhere by fighting it. These school placements don’t really matter in the long run anyway. Cream will rise anywhere.

I don’t understand. Don’t you have an e-mail that says she did qualify? And a letter? Makes no sense. I don’t think the “reality” is that she didn’t make it. I think a mistake has been made, but not that one. I think you need to talk to someone higher up and tell them the whole story and offer to send them copies of the evidence you have.

And, this sucks.

I suspect I would show up at the school with the acceptance letter in hand, state calmly that I will be happy to wait to see the principal, to get an explanation in person.

It boils down to the test scores, not the letters.
“Acceptance,” and “placement” are two different things, by the way. Just because your kid gets accepted doesn’t mean they’ll get placed. It’s two different entities you’re dealing with.

Ask for the supervisor of the guy at SP, and keep going up until you get someone to talk to you. SOTA doesn’t make the decision, so trying to get them to change the admittance won’t help. SP makes the decision, made the mistake, and confirmed the correction. They need to make things work with SOTA.


“Your letter was a mistake. Is there anything else we can help you with?”

It’s not up to the principal anyway. Placement decisions are made at the municipal level. It’s a city decision.

My advice is get a lawyer, and, if the lawyer agrees, call the newspaper. Talking to the principal is an option, but time is short here, at the end of August. You’ll have more leverage if classes haven’t started. But you can check with your lawyer about that, too. If you can’t help crying, definitely let your lawyer do the talking.

It might ruffle some administrative feathers but by the end of the year I’m sure the teachers will love your daughter. In four years, no one will even remember.

Why are you assuming there was a mistake about the test scores?

I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask to see the scores.

Maybe you should accept this reality, but not until the VP accepts this reality as well. It sounds like this VP is making the claim that no mistake has been made, your kid did not make it, and you’re being an unreasonable parent.

If I read you right, you are in possession of a letter composed of actual protons, neutrons, and electrons, that indicates that your kid got in. If there was no mistake, that physical artifact would not exist. Therefore a mistake has been made.

Maybe the mistake was, that your kid did not qualify and the letter was sent in error, but you should find that out rather than accept this guy’s denial.

Kay, let me explain again, because it is sticky.

SOTA is the school that says “she is good enough to be here”

Student Placement is the place that says, “Ok, we offically place you here”

The emails I have are from SP, not SOTA.

SOTA’s only mistake seems to be that they pushed it off on SP when I called in at the top of the summer with my concerns. The Vice Principal told me straight up that this was SP’s call and that I should take it up with them, and that if they placed her in SOTA, she would be in SOTA. He shouldn’t have told me that, but still, I think Dio is right about this one, and it makes me sick to my stomach. I think I realize she didn’t make it. I just told her. She is taking it better than I did. I hope that holds up when she actually has to attent the roughter city school she is going to end up in.

I thought that was pretty much what he told her. The letter was sent in error. He said the test scores weren’t good enough, and that’s something she can ask to see. The scores are either good enough or they aren’t.

Yeah, I’m cool with asking to see test scores. I mean, this guy is a liar, there is no question about that. But I really don’t think he is lying about the scores. He said she made a good score but not good enough. I wish he would have told me that at the top of the summer, but he didn’t tell me until today.

ETA: And yes, SP and SOTA are two different entities entirely. I think SOTA saw her name transfered back into their school and called SP to tell them ‘uh uh…not happening’.

Yeah, I agree, don’t give up yet. SP has the power (allegedly), and you have the letter from them that says she’s in. That’s worth more than anything anyone says on the phone.

Is there a reason to think that there couldn’t have been a mistake on their end, though? Where did the acceptance letter come from, if not from an apparently successful qualification?

Crap, that sucks. I don’t know I’d do in your shoes. Maybe ask to see the scores, but petty bureaucrats in my opinion are too damned likely to draw pointless lines in the sand, and defend them against all sense and sanity, because it’s defending their self-image of their own authority.

Since he seems to be quite willing to re-edit reality at a whim, I question just how effectively you can fight anything. It may be possible, but it’s going to be an uphill slog.

A word of advice: Document all your communications with him, immediately. Write yourself notes, about when you call, what he said, and keep them all together so you can provide them at some later date, if necessary. It might even be worth getting a steno-style note pad for this. Don’t let him be the only one with written records of what was said.

Best wishes to your daughter - I’m sorry that SOTA fell through, and hope she finds some challenges that engage her at whatever school she ends up in.

Some people are placing way too much value on the letter. It’s not some magic talisman. If it was sent in error, it won’t mean anything. It’s about the test scores.

By the way, if it was specifically an acceptance letter, that’s not the same as a placement letter. Acceptance and placement are two different things.

Whatever is going on, a better effort should have been made to explain exactly what the mistake WAS to Nzinga. It may well be that the VP didn’t have much of a handle on it himself, though. Sometimes paperwork screw-ups are not readily decipherable even to the bureaucrats themselves.

I’d escalate up to the principal at least, and also at least would demand some kind of explanation about the nature of the mistake and what happened. I probably would not go as far as getting an attorney/calling the newspaper, but I’d work within the school administration as much I could. Go ahead and be obnoxious and make multiple phone calls and demand answers. Either it won’t work, in which case, OK, she goes to whatever school she’s going to now, no harm done really. Or it will work, and then woohoo, you’re in the preferred school.

Edit: Also, I love that moment when you realize that your child has actually outstripped you in some field of talent. My daughter has been creating better art than I am capable of, since she was about 5 years old. (Now, my artistic talent is almost zero, so you might say this isn’t saying much, but still, it was a cool moment realizing, “Hey, this painting is good. I have never made a painting this good!”)

One more time - it’s not the school’s decision. The principal has nothing to do with it. Placement is made by the city. there is nothing to be gained by badgering the school.