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DOE May Eliminate Zoned High School Options for NYC Students

DOE May Eliminate Zoned High School Options for NYC Students

Students may no longer be guaranteed a seat in their district high school


If you think your teen or tween is guaranteed a seat in their “zone school,” think again. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last year that zoning for New York City public high schools would be eliminated in the fall of 2022. 

However, with the school year almost half over, the mayor has made no final decisions on this administrative change. 

“We're still reviewing all issues related to admissions,” the mayor said at a press conference on Nov. 15. “We're going to look at this very carefully, look at some of the input we received from communities and come up with more specifics soon.”

But on page 10 of the city's 68-page 2022 NYC Public Schools Admission Guide, it reads, “Beginning with admissions for students entering high school in September 2022, no high school applicant will have priority to attend a school based on where they live.” 

This would mean that a high school student would no longer be guaranteed a seat in a school close to home. 

The geographic phase out was always a two-year proposal, according to the city's Department of Education (DOE). Last year – the first year of the proposal – 48 high schools removed their district priorities. In a press release from December 2020, the city said that “all other geographic priorities will be eliminated by next year.”

But officials are still reviewing admission options for public high school students. As many parents continue to express concern about the possible change, the city DOE put out the following statement:

“We are reevaluating the policy to remove high school borough and zone priorities this admission cycle based on feedback we’ve received from school communities. As always, we are putting the needs of families front and center, and we will share details soon.”



The proposed change would be another major overhaul of the city's public school system by the mayor this year after the administration announced this fall the end of gifted and talented programs in public schools. The programs created barriers for public school students, especially those from underserved communities, according to the mayor. The gifted and talented programs will be replaced by the city's Brilliant NYC plan starting with kindergarteners in fall 2022. 

As of December of 2020, approximately 250 total high schools had some type of district or geographic priority in place, such as borough-based priority. Currently, 27 city schools give priority to students living in a certain zone for some seats. One school gives priorities to students living in a certain zone for all seats, and 235 high schools offer a borough priority. There is also overlap in this breakout, as some zoned schools also have borough eligibility. 

According to the city, eliminating zoned schooling will expand opportunity and increase choice for all rising high school students.  

It's possible that the zoning proposals can be scrapped by NYC's mayor-elect Eric Adams when he starts office next year. Adams' communications team did not respond to a request for comment. 

For more information, visit the DOE website at schools.nyc.gov.

Main photo by: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.com 

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Barbara Russo

Author: Barbara Russo is a freelance writer who holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the City University of New York. She enjoys playing guitar, following current events, and hanging out with her pet rabbits. See More

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