1st grade waiting list for Lake Harriet Community school frustrates parents

Two families who live near Lake Harriet Community School have sought legal advice after their children failed to secure spots for a first-grade class next fall.

Citing details from the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) website, they say that their children - twins Allison and Kiera Sundeen and Nicholas Stein should have spots at Lake Harriet, 4030 Chowen Ave. S. They haven't taken any legal action yet but sought the help of attorney Paul Trobaugh with the Downtown law firm Mansfield, Tanick & Cohen.

Trobaugh said the District is bound by its promise to place children at neighborhood schools - a policy the he and the parents say is made clear on the District's website.

MPS officials assert, however, that the posting was obsolete and contained an error. Only incoming kindergarteners are guaranteed placement, said Director of Student Placement Jackie Turner.

She said that the District usually prioritizes reservations for families asking for community schools and also tries to keep siblings together. In this case, even though Stein's siblings attend the school, Lake Harriet's overflowing enrollment caused the District to limit admission to 1st grade next year.

Because the school added a sixth kindergarten classroom in the fall, the school's 1st-grade will accommodate those kids next year, but no more.

That's because class sizes are bulging at the popular school, which boasts outstanding test scores and other quality programs.

Usually, the District can anticipate that about 50 kindergarteners signed up to attend the school will drop out. This year only 25 kindergarteners were moved by their families into programs elsewhere. As a result, kindergarten was over-enrolled - adding a wrinkle to enrolling in the following grade level.