A panel voted to close 12 struggling schools early Friday morning after a tumultuous six hour meeting disrupted by a raucous crowd of angry protestors.**
More than half the 2,000 parents, teachers and students at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene chanted, booed and banged drums early in the explosive meeting, halting proceedings for 30 minutes.
The rabble-rousers walked out and continued their demonstration outside. The meeting went on, and the Education Department’s Panel for Educational Policy ultimately voted to shutter the schools.
Among the group that walked out was Debbie Sall, a teacher at Jamaica High School, one of 26 schools on the panel’s chopping block.
“I’m disgusted,” she said. “This is a waste of our time. We’re done. The panel is a sham.”
The meeting started with remarks from embattled Schools Chancellor Cathie Black, who was accused of mocking the angry crowd at a similar meeting that ran into Wednesday morning. She didn’t comment on the vote after the meeting.
“These schools have demonstrated persistently poor performance – in some cases for a decade or longer,” Black said last night. “This is true despite an array of interventions the Department of Education implemented in hopes of reversing those patterns.”
She was followed by a bevy of fired-up lawmakers who blasted Black for trying to close the schools and what they considered her nasty attitude toward the school communities.
“Ms. Black, you have a lot of nerve. Jeering at our parents is the height of disrespect,” said City Councilman Charles Barron. “Cathie Black must go.”
“Ms. Black, what in the world is wrong with you?” asked City Councilman Jumaane Williams. “You show utter contempt and scorn for the parents and children you are supposed to be serving.”
The meeting went on after more than 1,000 attendees walked out and was expected to last into the early hours of Friday morning.
A rowdy meeting Tuesday ended with the 13-member panel voting to approve the shuttering of 10 other schools.
The city’s attempt to shut down 19 schools last year was halted by a lawsuit brought by the NAACP and the teachers union, after a judge found the city hadn’t properly considered the closings’ impact on school communities.
Union officials are unclear what they will do to combat this year’s closings.
**Including members of Make the Road New York (MRNY).
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