Friday, December 05, 2008

Irate. Livid. Beside Myself.

This morning, after I dropped Viva off at school, and after a very pleasant experience at my local Trader Joe's where they treated Cily like a rock star, I drove home, put Cily in the stroller, and prepared to walk through my lovely neighborhood to the local school to formally begin the process of registering Viva for kindergarten in January. As I was setting out, I bumped into my lovely neighbor and her 2-year-old, who is hilariously cute, and we discussed childcare. She said she may have some leads for me for someone to look after Cily, which was very welcome news. I took off for the school in great spirits.

Now, you know we moved to this house, for which we are paying more in rent than we would otherwise, because of the local public school -- so we would not have to pay for private school and then could afford to pay for childcare for Cily. When looking to rent, I religiously used LAUSD's online school finder to determine which elementary school fell within the boundaries, and if it were a decent school. We eliminated a number of possibilities based on what the school finder said.

When I walked into the school this morning, I admired the Christmas tree in the front entry, sweetly decorated with garlands of gingerbread men colored in by the students. There was a class of kids about Viva's age lined up with kazoos, waiting to go into the auditorium. I could easily picture my little creampuff as part of the line.

And then, when I reached the office, they told me our address doesn't fall within the boundaries required to enroll.

"That's impossible," I said. "I looked it up online before we moved -- before we even signed the lease. I called the school and had a long conversation with someone here about the Christmas vacation schedule and after-school programs. We moved here based on information from the LAUSD."

The woman behind the desk was adamant. Our street, she said, was never within the boundaries.

"Well, what are my options?" I said. "Because you don't seem to understand what a disaster this is."

"We couldn't enroll her for January anyway," she said. "We don't even have space available. You can try to get a permit and enroll her for September."

"No no no," I said. "We already gave notice at the private school she's currently in that she would not be back in January, based on a conversation with your staff. And I know someone whose daughter goes here and she says her kindergarten class is not full. So I just -- there has to be some way."

And around and around we went, and you can only imagine the bureaucratic bullshit. I would have to fill out this form, but only on the second Tuesday of the blahblahblah, zippideedah. She might as well have been speaking French because my mind had completely shut down.

Finally, I did the walk of shame out of the office, struggling not to cry, and while I almost broke down on the way home, I managed to only let a few tears fall before I got inside our garage,
when the floodgates opened and I yelled "Fuck, fuck FUCK!" which is pretty much all I could say for the next few minutes between tears.

Fortunately Cily was sleeping.

Since then, I have talked with several people at the LAUSD, left a message for the principal of the school, and had a long conversation with Master Planning and Demographics, who tells me that the boundary for getting into this school is one block east of me. They are still looking into it and will call me again.

I am now going to call our alleged local school, which is farther away than the school I want to enroll Viva in, and find out what their story is. Note that their test scores are below the district-wide minimum standard. However, parents seem to like the school, based on reviews at

I'm trying to do what I can to mitigate this mess, but I am so freakin' pissed off.


bridget in oregon said...

As I was reading this post by about the second paragraph, maybe it was the third, I saw it coming. I started saying, "No. No. No. No. No... don't say it, no. No!"

*sigh* I know of the red-tape-wall-of-resistance-school-crap of which you speak. I'm going through a little bit of it right now with some testing for my younger daughter. All that I can say is KEEP PUSHING. (Rules can bend.) And NEVER FLINCH.

And if it comes to pass that this school doesn't work out the other one might be fine, especially if the parents are giving it good reviews. Sometimes the scores are just that: scores. And they don't always show the progress the school has made or what they are currently doing that's not reflected in the scores. Here in Oregon the "ratings" of a school are actually pretty screwy... you gotta get in there and find out if it's a fit for your kid.

Hugs to you! Sending 'best scenario for the Blah Blahs' prayers your way.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Bridget: I've decided to appeal to the principal directly. We'll see if that works. Also, there is space at the other school for Viva to enroll, but no space in the afterschool program. Arrrr! Can I get no love??

Cee in SF said...

I'm so sorry! Good luck.

Lisa Blah Blah said...

LAUSD is evil and wrong. There, I said it.