As Jeff and Hilary Leichtnam prepare to play a game of Candyland with their 4-year-old daughter Charlotte, they can’t help but think about the winding road they’ve traveled to place her in a kindergarten class.
“We never wanted to go down the route of private education because my wife and I are both products of public education,” Jeff told 7 Eyewitness News.
After finding success at Frederick Law Olmstead School #64 for their older son William, the couple decide to apply to for a spot for Charlotte. So after going through the testing process and finalizing their application before the December 5th deadline, they waited for a decision.
“From that point on for the next about four plus months it was pretty much radio silence.”
They couple says they received no explanation on what was causing the delay until April 20th. According to a Buffalo Public School spokesperson, a letter was sent to elementary school placements explaining the delay was to accommodate a “goal to reduce class sizes."
The spokesperson told 7 Eyewitness News that restructuring class sizes for pre-k through first grade shifted everything from choice to sibling preference.
“There’s a very strict timeline for parents to accept to apply and then there’s not the same kind of timeframe to hear back,” Dr. Wendy Mistretta said.
Dr. Mistretta is the corresponding secretary for the district parent coordinating council. She says this year’s delay was greater than in years past.
After applying for other charter schools and being placed on wait lists, the Leichtnams found out Charlotte did not get into the Olmsted school, a school they thought she would get in because of sibling and proximity preference.
"At this point private schools have closed their application processes so my options are a little bit limited right now."
The district spokesperson told 7 Eyewitness News the remaining letters were sent out April 29th and apologized for any inconvenience.