A “soft launch” of a new online registration system by the South Orange-Maplewood School District caught many parents of incoming kindergartners off guard this past weekend, as the launch came without explanatory communication from the district.
In response to questions from Village Green, the district apologized for the manner of the soft launch today and assured parents that “no one will receive an advantage for having completed the online registration during the soft launch, and no one will be disadvantaged by beginning the process after the official launch date.”
The district’s statement continued, “We will send out a general notice with links to online registration later this week. The appointment scheduler will not open until after public notice goes out.” (Read the full statement below.)
Over the weekend, parents posted their concerns, anxieties, questions — and some compliments — to social media. One parent who contacted Village Green said that parents were “bent out of shape” over the launch. Many described the system as “glitchy” (for instance, registrants were required to fill in a third parent) and wondered why it had not be tested.
What they didn’t realize was that they themselves were helping to test the system. Per the district’s statement: “Thank you to those who participated and provided feedback to help us fine tune the process.”
Meanwhile over the weekend, many parents expressed concern that they hadn’t heard about registration in a timely manner and worried that their children would get shut out of the school they preferred. Many parents also expressed appreciation that the district was moving registration online.
Some representative comments via text and social media:
— The new online registration system for SOMSD 2019-20 is rather problematic. Lots of glitches, lots of confusion and frustrated parents. The system was not properly tested before opening it. I know a lot of parents feel very in the dark about what to do about it.
— I have been able to do preregistration, but not set up an appointment. I emailed to set up an appointment and they turned me back to the website.
— 1) The form makes you enter previous addresses for your child, even if there is none. 2) makes you enter date of entry into U.S., even if your child was born in U.S. (I put her birthday I hope that is ok) 3) makes you put start day in U.S. school even if there is none.
— There are no instructions for those who want to opt in to Seth Boyden. I registered for my zoned school as that was the only option, and I saw that there was an opt in form, but it’s not clear when/ how I’m supposed to submit it?
— This is the 4th child I’ve registered with SOMSD and so far it has been the easiest. Yes I had to repeat some info (it’d be nice if it auto-filled my address on all the pages) and some questions – like requiring a previous address when my child has only ever had one address – were annoying it was way, way easier and less cumbersome than the old method.
Parents and guardians with questions can email the SOMSD Administration at [email protected].
Read the full statement from the South Orange-Maplewood School District in response to Village Green’s queries here:
The original plan for online registration was to do a “soft launch” with new students enrolling after the start of school to help us stress test the system and fix any validation errors that existed before kindergarten registration began. Technical issues delayed the process, so the soft launch began last week for kindergarten registration instead. We realize that this has caused some confusion, since we did not follow our standard procedure of announcing kindergarten registration publicly before beginning the soft launch.
We apologize for any anxiety caused, but assure you that no one will receive an advantage for having completed the online registration during the soft launch, and no one will be disadvantaged by beginning the process after the official launch date. Thank you to those who participated and provided feedback to help us fine tune the process.
We will send out a general notice with links to online registration later this week. The appointment scheduler will not open until after public notice goes out.