Brick schools will hold new drawing for preschool lottery

Brick Administration Building [FILE PHOTO]

BRICK TOWNSHIP — The school district will hold a new drawing of names for the preschool program lottery after it was discovered the names of some children had been inadvertently left out of the drawing pool for the original lottery.

The live drawing will be held Monday, May 20, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Warren H. Wolf Elementary School. The administration will hold an information session before the drawing to answer questions.

The announcement was made in a letter to parents mailed May 10 and has sparked anger from parents whose children had been accepted into the program through the original lottery drawing.

According to the letter sent to the parents of all 150 students originally accepted into the program, their child’s registration has been canceled after it was learned names were inadvertently left out of the first drawing.

A new drawing will take place instead in an effort to be fair to everyone, possibly affecting the placement of children whose families believed their spot was secure.

“To understand the concern, following the initial lottery and notification process it was discovered that a portion of registrants had not been processed and included in the original lottery. Therefore, the lottery was not inclusive of the entire group seeking entry into the program,” said school superintendent Gerard Dalton in the letter.

“As a result, the district has determined that a new lottery will be held to select 150 general education students who will attend the Warren H. Wolf General Education Preschool Program in the 2019-2020 school year.”

Courtney Rzetlinski is one parent who believed her daughter was guaranteed a spot in the district’s preschool program. Ms. Rzetlinski said her daughter’s name was drawn 32nd overall. She said it was “a blessing and a gift” to have her daughter selected into the program.

Ms. Rzetlinski had received a letter and a phone call confirming that her daughter had been accepted into the program two weeks ago. However, her appointment to register her child for the lottery was canceled. When she called to ask the reason it was canceled, she was informed that the names would be redrawn. Letters were mailed out to families on Saturday and received by most by Monday.

“I am sure that this is going to cause a huge uproar, as it is in my family,” she said.

“Our daughter needs something more [educationally] than where she is now, which is just a couple hour drop-off program a week.” Ms. Rzetlinski added that alternative options  could be financially burdensome to herself and other families.

“We’re talking thousands of dollars to send our child somewhere they’d be getting the same benefit that they were told they were going to be getting weeks ago.”

The Brick Township Schools recently received a state grant of over $1.9 million from the state to expand the preschool program into 15 integrated [special needs and non-special needs students] classrooms. Mr. Dalton said that this hiccup in the lottery process “will not negatively impact the district’s preschool grant.”

“Undoubtedly, this news is disappointing and concerning. We are taking all steps necessary to correct actions that caused the error and to ensure a more accurate lottery registration process in the future,” Mr. Dalton said in the letter.

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