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Lehman HS students wait for classes amid scheduling chaos

Scheduling snafus are an annual rite at city schools during the first week back. But those problems have been magnified at Herbert Lehman High School, where computer glitches and failed planning have left students sitting in the auditorium rather than in class.

Teachers and students said that since school began last Wednesday, hundreds of students haven’t known where to go or what classes to attend. Instead, many of the school’s 4,000 students have been told to sit in the auditorium while guidance counselors sort out the problem. Many have simply gone home.

Most schools work on students’ schedules over the summer and make adjustments the first week back when a glut of new students arrive on their doorsteps. But teachers said Lehman administrators hadn’t done this.

“The principal is blaming some computers going down, but in your average decent school this is addressed over the summer. The students deserve an education from day one,” said a Lehman teacher. “It’s never been this bad.”

On her way into the building this morning, Stephanie Caceres, 16, said she expected another day of waiting to get a class schedule.

“I haven’t been to class since the first day,” she said.

Caceres said that on the first day back from vacation, the school told her she didn’t have a schedule. Several days later she got one, but it was riddled with errors and guidance counselors told her to throw it out and wait for a new one.

Another student said she’d gone to the few classes she’s been assigned to, but the rest of her schedule is blank so she’s been waiting in the auditorium.

On Twitter, students vented their frustration.

“So I still don’t have a schedule for school yet,” wrote one student yesterday.

“Hardly anybody went to classes. I only went to three,” wrote another.

Lehman has endured a few rocky years under its current principal, Janet Saraceno, who was given a three-year contract and promised a bonus if she could improve the school’s graduate rate. Last October, I reported that the city was investigating Saraceno for changing dozens of students’ grades, sometimes years after they’d taken classes, in order to graduate more of them.

But instead of removing her from the school while the Office of Special Investigations completes its inquiry, Department of Education officials have chosen to keep Saraceno in place. On a city survey last summer, most Lehman teachers said they did not trust her leadership and believed she was not an effective manager. Her contract will expire at the end of this school year.

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