NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parents on the Upper West Side were sent scrambling after a universal pre-k program was shut down with less than a day’s notice.
The doors are now shuttered at Finger Painted Hands on W. 84th Street, and they won’t be reopening any time soon. It’s left 24 families searching high and low to find a new school for their kids.
“My child is four and a half and I feel devastated,” parent Isabel Pinto said. “She’s asking me if she’s going to go to school today I said no, I have to get a new school for you.”
The school is housed in the Church of St. Matthew and St. Timothy, and for the last decade it’s been funded by the Department of Education’s free pre-k for all program.
Last week, that all changed when parents were called for an emergency meeting.
“There were financial issues on the director side,” Pinto said. “Not receiving payments from the DOE but we never got the full story. We were just given bits and pieces.”
A letter to parents from the school’s director only said “We understand this is very upsetting and confusing to our students and families but it is what needed to be done.”
City officials tell CBS2 the school was suffering from financial troubles which were exacerbated when one of the facilities was flooded in the fall. The DOE says it provided extra financial support but the director still decided to close.
“The execution was poor on all fronts, I know that a lot of us are disappointed,” parent Tristin Wildstein said. “I know a lot of us feel we could’ve been given more notice.”
Officials with the DOE say they’ve connected with all of the impacted families and that as of yesterday, there are still five more children that need to be placed in new pre-k classes.
“They just gave me a list of five schools and I’ve called them, some of the schools are very far from where I live,” Pinto said, adding she’s waiting for more answers.
Parents say there needs to be some oversight so other families aren’t left without class in the middle of the school year.