Parents wait for hours to register students

Parents wait to register their children at the Wake schools headquarters in Cary.

August 14, 2012 3:19:49 PM PDT
Wake County parents are learning it's taking two hours - sometimes up to four hours - to register their children for school.

The reason is the new school choice assignment plan requires families to go to the school system headquarters in Cary.

When ABC11 was there Tuesday, we found families sitting, standing, and facing long waits.

"I wish the process was a little bit better. I'm missing work time being here. It's been about 3 hours and I'm still waiting," said parent Stefan McLean.

McLean was registering his son for kindergarten. Gwen Stephens was trying to move her daughter from a charter school into the same high school as her son.

"I think it's kind of crazy," she said.

Both said they didn't like the requirement that every parent come to the headquarters.

Unlike Wake's old assignment plan that put a student into a certain school based on neighborhood, the school choice plan doesn't guarantee a student a specific school assignment. That means the four thousand new students coming in this year have to show up at headquarters to be assigned.

School board vice chairman Keith Sutton said a central location for registration just weeks before school starts is necessary.

"Anytime families have to wait 2-3 hours to get registered, that's a concern of ours," he said. "I would say to parents, bear with us, we're working on it and it will get better."

Next year, parents shouldn't have to pick a number and join the masses waiting for hours. The school system is going back to assigning a base school to every address.

And while the new choice plan means hours of waiting, school system representatives said the plan is better at balancing enrollment.

"Last year, we had over-enrolled schools. This year we have better utilization of 74 schools. Because of the choice student assignment plan, we were able to place students in schools that were under-enrolled and we are able to lower the student head count in schools that were over-enrolled," Cris Mulder explained.

For Gwen Stephens, that meant a seat was available for her daughter. Unfortunately, Stefan McLean didn't get the same news.

"I got there and of course everything is full and I didn't get the school that I chose for my son," he said.

He applied for a transfer and will have to wait - even longer - for an answer.

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