Seven Queens High Schools Will Keep Original Names
After six tumultuous months, the city Department of Education (DOE) has announced that 24 city high schools, seven in Queens, that were renamed under the “turnaround” proposal put forth last January will reopen in September with their original names after all.
Principals at William Cullen Bryant, Long Island City, August Martin, Flushing, John Adams, Newtown and Richmond Hill High Schools, as well as 17 other schools, all given new names and identification numbers at the end of the last school year in June, were told on July 31 the new names and identification numbers assigned to the schools under the turnaround proposal would not be used.
“Your school will open in September with the original school name and DBN (identification number). Please use your original name and DBN for all business transactions and communications,” DOE Chief Executive for Turnaround Elaine Gorman told principals in an e-mail, according to GothamSchools on August 1.
The turnaround process was to have changed the names and staffs at the 24 persistently low achieving (PLA) schools and introduced new programs for them. On July 24, turnaround plans to have all staff reapply for their positions with only 50 percent eligible for rehire was determined to be in violation of the contracts of both the teachers’ and principals’ unions; now, DOE has reversed itself on renaming the schools too.
“As an arbitrator found and the courts have upheld, these schools were never going to be really ‘new’ under the mayor’s plan, so it’s appropriate to retain the historic names that mean so much to their communities and their staff,” United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Michael Mulgrew said in an August 1 New York Times report.
In the e-mail, the DOE also told principals to check their staffing needs, an action normally concluded by the end of June. In addition, the DOE said that letters to families with children enrolled at the schools will be going out soon and that the High School Directory will include correct and updated information about the turnaround schools for eighth-graders seeking to apply to specific high schools in the fall.
“We will work closely with [principals] and the Office of Student Enrollment to ensure that information about your school is accurate and distributed appropriately,” Gorman said.
Accurate, appropriately distributed information can have lasting, significant effects on the future of a high school. The High School Directory contained only the different school names when it was published last spring. Concerns have been expressed that students will not realize that the schools have remained the same despite the different names and therefore will not enroll in them. Lower enrollment numbers will hinder the schools’ capability for improvement.