This time it was personal.
Schools Chancellor Cathie Black underwent a scathing verbal attack last night during a wild hearing in Brooklyn that saw 1,800 furious attendees** storm out hours before 12 schools were given last rites.
"We’re not going to sit here and hear them talk like this. It’s a waste of everyone’s time," said Zakiyah Ansari, a member of the Coalition for Educational Justice, which along with the United Federation of Teachers led the walkout at Brooklyn Tech HS. Some 200 people remained.
After more than five hours of public comments, the Panel for Educational Policy — eight of whose 13 members were appointed by Mayor Bloomberg — deliberated for about an hour before voting just before 1 a.m. today to close all the schools on the chopping block.
Black would not talk with reporters afterward.
In three days, she has overseen the closure of 22 schools. Most will be phased out to make way for new, smaller schools in the same buildings.
Earlier in the evening, Mike Mulgrew, president of the teachers union, had called the panel "illegitimate."
Although the panelists have been cast as Bloomberg’s puppets, it was Black who bore the brunt of the crowd’s wrath.
She was met with a chorus of boos when she took the stage.
"These schools have demonstrated persistently poor performance — in some cases for a decade or longer," Black said as boisterous heckling drowned out most of her speech.
Chants of "Cathie Black is whack" and "Cathie Black must go" thundered through the auditorium while whistles blared and drums pounded.
"What in the world is the matter with you?" a miffed City Councilman Jumaane Williams(D-Brooklyn) asked Black.
"You show utter contempt and scorn for the parents you should be serving. If you don’t want to be here, then leave — because many of us don’t want you here anyway."
Williams was referring to Black losing her cool at Tuesday night’s school-closure hearing, also held at Brooklyn Tech.
"I cannot speak if you are shouting," Black had said before mocking the crowd’s response by repeating, "Ohhhhh." The education panel voted to close 10 schools following that hearing.
"That little ugly sound you made on TV, jeering our parents, is the height of disrespect," Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron said last night.
Seven of the schools closed last night would have been shut down last year but were provisionally kept open by a lawsuit filed by the teachers union.
**Including members of Make the Road New York (MRNY).
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