SACRAMENTO, CA (CBS13)-Joe Gomez and his wife are among the dozens of frustrated families with their tents and sleeping bags, who will be camped out at the Language Academy of Sacramento charter school on Saturday night.
The scene was similar to lines of shoppers camped out for a Black Friday sale, but these are parents, with their kids, fighting for a spot in ACES, the school’s after-school program.
It’s all due to a big change to next year’s admission process into ACES.
“Your student, who is already enrolled is going to get kicked out, and the people on the wait list are going to come in,” explained Ricardo Morales, who has three children enrolled at the school.
Previously, students enrolled ACES were given a spot in the program the next school year. But that meant many of the schools newer students were kept out.
According the school’s website, the Language Academy serves kindergarten through eighth grade, “particularly English learners and those from historically underserved populations, to excel academically in Spanish and English, to develop a lifelong love of learning, and to become bilingual, biliterate, and multiculturally competent leaders.”
Eduardo De Leon, the school’s academic director, says there are 565 students who attend the charter school, and over 160 students who participate in their ACES program.
Parents praise the school for their academic excellence and are grateful for the hard work of the teaching staff.
But many of the parents, who are camped out, argue the sudden rule change didn’t give families enough time to look for alternatives. They say the school’s announcement of change to the enrollment process for ACES came at the end of May, at which point other after-school programs were already full.
Others have become so dependent on the ACES, that they worry that not getting in will come at huge financial cost.
“I don’t want to even think about the financial stress it is going to cost our family. It would probably be mean that I would have to quit working. Or, I would have to transfer them out, because I need a school that has somewhere where I can leave them so I can continue working,” explained Tabata Belaunzaran, who has three kids enrolled at the school.
But those financial burdens aren’t exclusive to parents and families already enrolled. Some parents suggested the school work to hire more teachers for the after school program, given the demand.
Still, for parents like Mike Reyes, the after school program isn’t a concern over child care, but one of student achievement. “You can see that the progress with the kid who doesn’t go to the after school program and a kid that does,” he said.
He understands what the school is trying to do, but goes on to say that the school should have informed parents earlier in the year, perhaps even hold a lottery system, which may have avoided the need for families to stay the night.
He described it as a “fiasco,” saying, even if the school waited until next year, that would have given parents more time to plan out their schedule.
The families were camped on the sidewalk along the school until late Saturday afternoon when school administrators allowed them to move onto the campus for security reasons.
Registration begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday.