CARY -- While Monday was the first day of school for many students, more than 500 Wake County families instead spent the day waiting in line for hours, still trying to get a school assignment.
“I think it's crazy,” said a frustrated Cassandra Harris as she was trying to register her son for kindergarten.
“It's ridiculous to have to sit and wait five to six hours,” said her fiance Carlos McNeill, holding their one-year-old son Zechariah and trying to keep their five-year-old son Malachi entertained. “He's restless. I'm restless. I'm ready to go.”
McNeill and Harris thought Malachi was registered for kindergarten back in July. They even sent him to a year-round school when it started back a few weeks ago. But administrators said the paperwork wasn't complete, so he's not assigned to any school.
The only solution involved going to Central Office in Cary and waiting what felt like a never-ending line.
“You wait for them to call your number,” McNeill said. “Then you get in this line and go all the way around and then you go from this room to that room.”
“It's been a really frustrating process,” said Miracle McDonald.
She and her son, Cameron, just moved to a different area of the county last Friday and needed to transfer to a school closer to their new home with school bus transportation.
“What should have taken me about an hour took six.” she said. “He missed school and I missed work.”
Administrators said because of the new school choice plan, families that still need a new school assignment have to go to the Central Office in Cary.
In previous years, families simply went to their base school to register, which meant much shorter lines and oftentimes no wait at all.
“Because of the way we're assigning them and some of our school are already full and can't take any more, we were trying to avoid having families have to go to a school and be turned away because there aren't seats and then come down here,” said Wake Schools Chief of Staff Judy Peppler. “We were trying to make it just be one trip for families if at all possible. We're trying to get families through [the process] as fast as we can.”
“It should go back to the old way,” McNeill said, “[where you] go to the school to register your kid like you used to and everything was done. I'm from Wake Forest and I had to come way out here [to Cary]. I had to find the place and didn't know where it was. Coming way out here, it's ridiculous.”
If you still need a school assignment for your child, administrators say it's best to get to Central Office first thing in the morning.
You can get all the forms you need online to fill them out ahead of time.
You'll need to bring proper identification and address documents, which are also listed online.