Just got a text from a friend that the parents of multiples list is going nuts with stories about twins, triplets, etc. assigned to different schools for this round. Not to minimize it — I imagine it’s quite stressful to open letters that assign Twin A to one school and Twin B to another — or no school at all (actually, it’s probably most stressful to find that NEITHER twin has received a school of choice). Anyway, here’s the skinny.
Earlier in the week, I did receive an inquiry from one family and discussed the issue with EPC. It’s only in the last day or so that I’ve realized that there seem to be a fair number of families in this situation. I don’t know how many there are or whether there are more than in previous years, but given the worry apparently being expressed on the parents of multiples list, I thought I’d address it here.
Unfortunately, this situation happens every year in Round I. Several years ago (I don’t know how many) a decision was made that twin/triplet/etc. applicants would go into the assignment round separately. This decision was made because EPC was finding a high number of muiltiples that were receiving NO assignment at all in the first round because of the lower likelihood of finding two (or three) open seats at schools rather than one. In other words, attempting to place twins or other sets of multiples as a unit was being found to disadvantage families of multiples as compared to singles. When twins/multiples are processed separately, there is a much higher likelihood that at least one child will receive a school of choice — then the sibling(s) receive sibling priority in later rounds. In the words of one of the officials I talked to this week, multiples are virtually always placed with their siblings before the beginning of school.
I know of only one situation in the past where this did not occur – it was a highly-requested dual-immersion track in a popular school. One English-speaking twin received an assignment to the immersion track but there was no seat available through subsequent rounds for the second English-speaking twin, who was ultimately placed in the school’s GE track for the first day of school.
So why does EPC even ask families to check the Twin box on the form, if they are processing separately? In some cases the system can place a twin via sibling priority if the first twin is placed early enough in the cycle and spaces remain. Obviously, that is everyone’s preference — to place twins together at a school of choice during the first round so that there is no need for a family to re-apply. Unfortunately, as I said, this doesn’t always happen.
If you are a parent of twins/triplets and your children were not placed together, you should consult EPC about your options going forward. My advice to the family I spoke with last week was to accept both spots, then reapply for the twin who did not receive your higher choice. The reason to accept the spot you don’t want is simply for peace of mind during the period of time you are waiting for Twin B to be placed with his or her sibling — accepting it does not harm your chances for placing your children together.
If neither of your children were placed at a school of choice, you have an admittedly more difficult decision to make. Again, I would go to EPC to discuss your options in detail with a counselor, as you will want to reassess the likelihood of placing your children together at the higher-demand schools on your list. If any/all/some combination of the top 15 demanded schools were on your original list, I would strongly advise looking for some additional options. It will probably be very unlikely to have two twins placed together at Clarendon or Alvarado or Sherman in subsequent rounds, though stranger things have happened.
There is always movement between March and the first day of school, so families worrying about twin/multiple assignments, should be reasonably confident that things will work out. Of course, I can’t guarantee they will in every imaginable situation, so it’s good to have a backup option just in case. I also know that in situations where a family faces a legitimate hardship based on their school assignment, EPC is happy to work with you to find better options.