School Board 30: Closing High Schools ‘A Crime’
Community District Education Council 30, which oversaw public hearings on the proposed closings of William Cullen Bryant and Long Island City High Schools, two of eight Queens schools slated for “turnaround”, passed a strongly worded resolution in opposition to the proposal at its April 19 meeting held at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights.
A final hearing on the proposal to close 26 schools, including Bryant, Long Island City and six more high schools in Queens, by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) will be held at 6 p.m. April 26 at Prospect Heights Campus, 883 Classon Ave. in Brooklyn.
In addition to the vote on the school closings, the panel will also consider a resolution introduced by Queens PEP representative Dmytro Fedkowskyj calling on the Department of Education (DOE) to abandon the turnaround model.
“It was a revelation to see how many kids and family members turned out [at the Bryant and LIC HS public hearings]. It was moving,” CDEC 30 member Ernest Brooks said. He added that closing schools that serve a large immigrant population is an attack on the community.
“I think it’s really just a crime to close these schools,” CDEC 30 member Jennifer Harper agreed . “I don’t understand why they have to be closed to make improvements.” Harper said she believed the closings were “politically driven”.
Cathy Yankopoulos, a parent member of the School Leadership Team at Bryant and a former member of the CDEC 30 predecessor body, School Board 30, said the turnaround is an attempt to “get rid of the staff (teachers)”.
Under federal guidelines, the turnaround model does not involve closing schools, CDEC 30 co-president Isaac Carmignani said. “Is it being done for other reasons?” he asked rhetorically.
Long Island City H.S. senior class president and CDEC 30 student representative Devika Seeraj asked what improvements are going to be made. “What are they giving us to improve?” she said. Seeraj will be attending Brown University next fall.
Carmignani said within District 30, the turnaround process has hurt students and parents. “Parents will not want their children to apply to those schools. The injury has already been done and it’s just plain wrong.”
“There are two things that are good for kids, experienced teachers and small class sizes,” CDEC 30 member Michelle Noris pointed out.
The resolution, unanimously passed, “Supports the UFT (United Federation of Teachers) and opposes the mayor’s attempt to place the eight PLA (Persistently Low Achieving) Queens high schools into “Turnaround” and calls upon the DOE to provide the additional support and funding necessary to reduce class sizes, keep experienced teachers and secure resources so that these schools can succeed and our students can receive the quality education that they deserve.”
CDEC 30 also passed a resolution for the DOE to clarify the “role of the CDEC when high schools undergo change in utilization, reconfiguration, re-siting, co-location, phaseout or closing”. CDEC 30 members were given three business days notice that they were “required” to attend the public hearing on the closing of Bryant H.S. with the DOE.
CDEC elections are for parents of K-8 students. Parents of high school students are not eligible to vote in CDEC elections