Pre-K lottery selection error leads to second attempt in Chatham County

Pre-K lottery selection error leads to second attempt in Chatham County

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - An error in a "Pre-K lottery draw" causes some selection whiplash for more than a thousand Chatham County families.

All who filled out pre-k applications and listed email addresses were told their children made it into their top choice school, only to get a follow-up message from the school district hours later that wasn't the case.

Cassie Powers, the mother of a pre-kindergarten program hopeful said, "We celebrated, had a nice big dinner with the family because he got into the same school as his sister, and after the kids went to bed we got a letter that it had been revoked, the seat had been revoked, and that they'd be doing a new lottery the next day."

That was the experience nearly 1,600 families had Tuesday night, all getting the message from the school district that their child wouldn't necessarily be placed in the pre-k program at the top of their list.

So, what happened?

The school district uses a third-party vendor called "InfoSnap" to manage the lottery, and have since 2012.

"Once they checked with InfoSnap, they found out that InfoSnap had the parameters for the priority system set erroneously," said Savannah-Chatham County School System Public Information Manager Sheila Blanco.

Blanco says parents are told they get priority for pre-k programs in their school zone. That priority wasn't applied during the first drawing.

To make sure this doesn't happen again, the district will be double-checking the InfoSnap-generated results from here on out.

Still, the sting of the take-back is lingering, especially since the re-draw that happened yesterday didn't go the same way for many.
"I think it's actually, a lot of parents that were wait-listed before have made the list now. And a lot of people that were on the seating placement are now on the waiting list," Powers said.

Instead of being placed 16th in a pre-k program at a school right across the street from their house, Powers' son is now 23rd on a waiting list. 
Blanco said the school district is looking at trying to get funding for two additional pre-k classes for the fall, and also give parents a list of pre-k programs at private schools to add even more options.

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