A mother in Manhattan discovered an embarrassing glitch in the City of Education’s lottery system in the city, which is used to accommodate middle and high school students.
When students in New York filled out their online applications for 2022-2023, each child was automatically given a long string of random numbers from 0 to 9 mixed in lower case from a to f.
The random numbers are used to determine the order in which students fit into the programs.
Lottery numbers starting at 0 are expected to lead school students to the top of their list – eighth graders can rank up to 12 preferred high schools.
The odds go down from there. Lottery tasks that start with higher numbers and letters are the least good.
But as an eighth-grade mother realized, if students canceled and resumed their applications – as the DOE allowed – they were given a different lottery number each time. The breach allowed users to play the system by re-applying until a convenient lottery number popped up.
Parent leaders alerted DOE chief enrollment officer Sarah Kleinhandler, who was unaware of the problem and promised to look into it. She made.
Last week, the DOE insisted “there is no problem with our system” – but said it would be fixed.
The DOE said it was able to identify 163 students who had received new lottery numbers – less than one percent of the candidates. They included 121 students out of 71,000 high school applicants, and 42 students out of 58,000 middle school applicants, a spokesman said.
Students who received new lottery numbers after reactivating their applications will get their first lottery numbers back, a spokeswoman told The Post.
“We are taking action. We are returning the lottery numbers of these students to the numbers originally created. Affected families will be notified immediately.”
Is Manhattan paying attention to the original 32-digit lottery number her daughter received on Feb. 26 started at “03” – which she thinks may give her daughter first school debates at the top of her list.
So she decided whether her daughter should redo her list by putting more coveted schools in mind.
But when they canceled the application and reactivated it on March 10, a new lottery number appeared. It started with “ce”, much less fortunate than the first.
Four days later, on March 14, they canceled and started again, this time getting a random number that started with “50”, and it was not as good as the first number they got, but much better than the second.
The mother from Manhattan, who kept screenshots with a timestamp of the three lottery numbers, spread the word about her surprising discovery, and caused concern.
“This year, wise parents might have figured this out and redefined their child’s request if they had received a bad lottery number,” an active PTA father told the post.
“Other parents may have started with a good lottery number and changed to a worse number without noticing it.”
A Queens High School teacher is appalled: “Parents have discovered a technical glitch that allows them to keep trying to get better lottery numbers. If even just one family used this process to get around the system, the whole process needs to be discarded and redone.”
DOE officials said they would “fix” the problem by removing the cancellation feature in future admission cycles. Students can still change or rearrange the schools listed in their app without canceling and restarting.
Admissions guru Alina Adams, author of “Getting Into New York High School,” has helped parents deal with a number of flaws in the DOE implementation in recent years.
“The system is not set up to deal with any kind of malfunction,” she said, “and when they try to fix them, they inevitably aggravate the situation. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
DOE students are expected to receive their school games in June.