En Español Know Your Rights
Source: New York Post
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

DOE ax hits 24 schools A ‘political’ reprieve for two, but . . .

The city’s education-policy board voted just before midnight last night to close and then immediately reopen two dozen schools with new names and new staffers in an unprecedented move that could displace more than 1,000 teachers.

Two last-minute reprieves were granted yesterday before the vote, and they went to a pair of politically backed schools — Grover Cleveland HS in Queens, which counts state Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan as an alumna, and Bushwick Community HS in Brooklyn, which garnered several vocal supporters, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The move to gut staffers is among several firsts for the Department of Education, which intends to use closures to boot hordes of teachers from the 24 struggling schools.

Current students are promised a seat in the reincarnated schools.

But all principals who have been at a school more than three years will go, and only 50 percent of the teachers are guaranteed they’ll be rehired, because of an obscure contract rule that restricts how new schools are staffed.

DOE officials insisted there will be no quotas for how many current teachers can be rehired.

Those not hired back by a committee of two teachers, two DOE appointees and the principal will be left to find jobs elsewhere — or join a pool of substitutes that critics say will cost the city as much as $100 million annually.

“It’s a great opportunity for a school to reidentify itself with a new mission, with a new type of energy, a group of new staff and new programs — and a new name,’’ said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

But many of the 400 students [including members of Make the Road New York], parents and teachers at last night’s boisterous meeting said the DOE’s case for blaming teachers was paper thin.

“What the DOE and the PEP [Panel for Educational Policy] are doing is an injustice,” said Robert Matthew, 16, a junior at Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education HS in The Bronx. “It could probably ruin my life.”

Others noted that many of the schools had made progress in recent years — including three with graduation rates higher than the citywide average.

“I would not let my daughter stay in a school that wasn’t helping her,” said Danny Rhodes, who opposed the action. His teenager is a senior at Johns Adams HS in Queens, which will close.

He said students there are “entirely attached to the teachers, they’re entirely attached to the name of the school.”

The DOE has applied for as much as $2 million in funding per school to support the overhauls. But agency officials have made it clear that they would proceed with their plans with or without the grants.

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