Chancellor Fariña Announces District 1 School Diversity Plan

  • Posted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 Updated: Thu Apr 19, 2018

The District 1 school diversity plan is the result of extensive work and advocacy by local parents, community leaders, and educators, and has unanimous support from District 1 school principals

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced that District 1, which encompasses the Lower East Side and East Village of Manhattan, will implement a districtwide plan to increase school diversity.

The District 1 school diversity plan includes:

  • The first districtwide Diversity in Admissions pilot in New York City, and
  • A Family Resource Center, which opened this October and is a one-stop shop for families to learn about and enroll in District 1 schools.

The DOE initially introduced elements of the plan in early September, and held public meetings at every school in District 1 to gather family and community feedback. The diversity plan contains several additions and improvements because of this feedback process.

The District 1 school diversity plan is the result of extensive work and advocacy by local parents, community leaders, and educators, and has unanimous support from District 1 school principals. Additionally, as part of its citywide school diversity plan, Equity & Excellence for All: Diversity in New York City Public Schools, the City has committed to providing more formal support to community school districts in the development of district-wide diversity plans.

“We know that all students benefit from diverse and inclusive classrooms, and District 1 is taking an important step forward with their districtwide diversity plan,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. "I thank District 1 parents and community members for their leadership in advocating for more diverse schools, and I’ll be closely monitoring the impact of this diversity plan as we engage in efforts across the City."

Through the District 1 Diversity in Admissions pilot:

  • Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch (FRL), students in temporary housing (STH), and English Language Learners (ELL) will have priority for 67% of offers at every District 1 elementary school for Pre-K and Kindergarten.
  • Students who do not meet these criteria will have priority for the remaining 33% of offers. This will ensure that schools with an applicant pool that is dominantly FRL-eligible, ELL, or STH families are able to make offers to a diverse group of students.
  • All District 1 elementary schools will make Kindergarten offers to a percentage of students with disabilities near the district average within the 67% and 33% priorities.
  • All families will be encouraged to list at least five choices on their Pre-K and Kindergarten applications. District 1 families who list at least five choices will maintain a district priority such that they are more likely to get an offer from one of their top five choices. 

The District 1 Family Resource Center (FRC) opened at PS 15 at 333 East 4th Street on October 2. The FRC will:

  • Provide one-stop application and enrollment support and education about schools, programs and other NYC services to District 1 children and families. This will create more equitable access and ensure families have the best information to list five or more school choices on their application.
  • Be staffed full-time during school hours to support families, and also offer Tuesday evening and Saturday morning hours. Staff members speak English, Spanish, and Mandarin to meet the needs of District 1 families.
  • Make direct outreach to support families who do not have the time or ability to visit.

“District 1 has a long history of valuing diversity and inclusion, and I’m excited that we are continuing to lead the way with our new school diversity plan,” said Superintendent Daniella Phillips. “I am deeply thankful to the educators, parents, and community members who have been so passionate about this issue and done the work to make this plan possible. Together, we will see the benefits of more diverse student bodies across District 1 schools, and work to foster more inclusive classrooms that serve all our students.” 

“Our roots are in our communities, and as parent leaders who are able to raise our own kids in this community, this diversity plan is very important to us,” said Naomi Peña, President of Community Education Council (CEC) 1, and Members of CEC 1. “We are thankful for the valuable partnership between parent leaders and the DOE. The DOE has heard and incorporated our feedback and shown commitment to ensuring this is an equitable plan, and we are united in doing what’s best for our kids and our community. We know that we have a responsibility to teach our kids that there are people in the community who look like them and speak the language they speak, and also that there are people with different experiences. When our kids grow up and learn alongside children from diverse backgrounds, they become effective communicators with different types of people and succeed in different environments, and we know that’s really going to help them when they’re adults. The districtwide Diversity in Admissions pilot and new Family Resource Center are about expanding access to District 1 schools for all families and leveling the playing field. Every parent from every background can go into the FRC and ask the same questions and get the same answers from staff members that speak their language.”

“This is a big step for District 1 students and families, and our school diversity efforts citywide. I thank Daniella Phillips, Naomi Peña, and the principals, parents, and community officials in District 1 for driving this forward with their continued advocacy and commitment to making our schools more diverse,” said Josh Wallack, Deputy Chancellor for Early Childhood Education and Student Enrollment.

“Our students are so fortunate to live in a diverse, vibrant, and inclusive City and we know that they benefit when our schools reflect our City and our District 1 community,” said Darlene Cameron, principal of STAR Academy. “The District 1 school diversity plan is a big step forward for our children and our schools, both through the Diversity in Admissions pilot and the Family Resource Center – which is already creating real buzz in the community. I thank our District 1 parent leaders and my fellow principals for the time and work they’ve put in to make this big step possible, and I’m looking forward to the work ahead.” 

“As someone who grew up in District 1 and now as an educator and parent in the community, I am excited about the school diversity plan,” said Irene Sanchez, principal of PS 15. “It’s so important to have diverse classrooms and schools, because students learn from working with peers who are different from them. I expect to see a real positive impact on our students and schools with the combination of the Family Resource Center and Diversity in Admissions pilot, and I am proud to host the Family Resource Center in the PS 15 building.”

“I’m excited that District 1 is taking on a diversity plan for all of our schools to better reflect the diversity of the district,” said Dyanthe Spielberg, principal of The Neighborhood School. “It’s important work that we need to do to better serve our students and families. Our Family Resource Center is off to a strong start, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact of the districtwide Diversity in Admissions pilot. We’ve worked to engage families and respond to their feedback throughout this process, and we need to keep doing that to ensure this plan works for our District 1 community.”  

“The pilot program to increase diversity in school admissions and the Family Resource Center announced today are both positive steps toward a District 1 that welcomes and serves the needs of all children in lower Manhattan,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “School segregation is a complicated problem that will take years of painstaking work to fully correct, but these new initiatives represent major strides toward ensuring every child has a fair shot and every family has access to the school enrollment information they need to make the right choices.”

“This community has a longstanding, vibrant tradition of diversity and inclusion, and I am proud to be part of an ongoing, collaborative process to help us ensure that our schools live up to that tradition,” said Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. “In our increasingly interdependent world, we know that diversity enriches all students’ educational experience. I thank Deputy Chancellor Josh Wallack, Superintendent Daniella Phillips, District 1 Community Education Council President Naomi Peña, my colleagues in elected office, and the entire working group of principals, parents, and community leaders for their commitment to this project.”    

“On the Lower East Side, we embrace diversity, and that’s because we know that an education that exposes children to diverse cultures is critical in shaping well-informed individuals,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “That is why this diversity plan is so important and timely. I want to thank all the parents and community members who pushed for this diversity plan. I look forward to working with them and DOE to ensure that this plan is responsive to the needs of District 1 families.”

“In order for our City’s schools to truly reflect the diversity of our communities, we need admissions systems and resources that work towards equity, access and fairness,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “Thanks to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Carmen Fariña and most importantly, local parents and teachers in Community School District 1 on their collaborative efforts to create a districtwide plan that addresses this need. Thanks to the community’s feedback, the District 1 School Diversity Plan sets a model for community school districts across the City and serves as a strong step towards inclusion and equity in our public school system.”

Council Member Rosie Mendez said, “My community and I have a long-standing commitment to diversity in all areas and, in particular, when it comes to obtaining a quality education. I believe this plan is a good start, but needs to aggressively tackle the long-standing issues of diversity when it pertains to the families with children who reside in transitional housing and/or in special education or District 75 Schools. I am particularly grateful that the DOE has agreed to maintain the Family Resource Center open on Saturdays in addition to one evening and four workdays. While I believe we should have more evening options for parents, this center will be essential in providing information to the families about existing District 1 Schools and any resources that will be available to them.”

“This is a big deal,” said Council Members Brad Lander and Ritchie Torres, co-sponsors of the School Diversity Accountability Act. “For the first time, the NYC Department of Education is implementing a districtwide plan to achieve more integrated schools. Congratulations to the parent advocates, Community Education Council, principals, and DOE staff who have worked long and hard toward this goal. Together, they looked honestly at the problem of school segregation, built strong support to do something about it, organized for change, and found consensus for a good plan. Combating school segregation is not easy, but it is both morally urgent and educationally compelling. District 1’s work will serve as a model, a challenge, and an inspiration for other districts around the city."   

“I am hopeful that this diversity plan will move New York City public schools in the right direction,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “Our schools should reflect the dynamic and vibrant mosaic that is NYC. Many Lower East Side and East Village parents, community leaders, and educators support this plan, and I share their optimism. We should embrace our city's diversity, one of our greatest strengths.”

“This is great news for District 1 and New York City,” said Matt Gonzales, Director of New York Appleseed’s School Diversity Project. “The District 1 school diversity plan represents real action to make schools more diverse and reflective of the community they serve, and it is a testament to the vision, organizing and advocacy of District 1 parents and educators. I am happy to see more of their feedback incorporated into the plan, and I look forward to seeing its impact in the community.”

“The District 1 diversity plan is a serious and aggressive effort to bring children of different backgrounds together where they’ll have a better opportunity to learn,” said Richard Kahlenberg, Senior Fellow at the Century Foundation. “It is a big step in the right direction – it’s comprehensive, it sets clear goals for promoting diversity, and New York City and District 1 have made an important commitment to evaluate its impact and make improvements.”

“This plan demonstrates a commitment to advancing equity by understanding how to increase diversity across New York City,” said David E. Kirkland, Executive Director of the NYU Metro Center. “Having the Family Resource Center as a central aspect is essential because diversity without family investment is likely to maintain inequities within schools. The Family Resource Center suggests that the DOE is focusing on the issues of diversity holistically. It will be important to closely monitor and track this process so that, if it works, it can be used as a model moving forward.”

“This plan is a big step forward for the city as they begin to think about system-wide approaches to integrating our schools,” said Nicole Mader, Senior Research Fellow for InsideSchools and the Center for NYC Affairs at the New School. “I am particularly hopeful that this will help balance the number of students in temporary housing across all District 1 schools, who are segregated in only a handful of schools like P.S. 188, where 52% of students were homeless in 2015-16. I'm also encouraged by the recent changes made in response to the community's feedback, including longer hours and Spanish and Mandarin language support to the Family Resource Center. Active community engagement in this process is crucial, and should be the priority going forward as other districts take on the hard but important work of desegregating their schools.”

“We are pleased to see students with disabilities included in the new District 1 admissions policy,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “We look forward to working with the DOE to ensure that these children receive the classes and services they need.”

The District 1 school diversity plan efforts grow from a Socioeconomic Integration Pilot Program (SIPP) grant awarded from the New York State Education Department in 2015 with the goal of increasing socioeconomic diversity in its elementary schools.

Both the District 1 Diversity in Admissions pilot and Family Resource Center will be continuously reviewed to ensure they are advancing the goals of diversity and equity in the district. This will include an evaluation of the plan’s impact at the end of the 2018 admissions cycle.