Parents See ‘False Advertising’ in Channel View Academy
Taylor McMahon was in the eighth grade at PS 47 in Broad Channel last year when she first heard of the new Channel View Academy For Research that was to open at Beach Channel High School the following September.
“Taylor was really looking forward to the real high school experience for the ninth grade,” Taylor’s mother, Kelly McMahon says. “Coming from a small school such as PS 47, the idea of a small high school had lots of appeal.”
After attending an orientation session at PS 47 where the program was outlined by Regional Superintendent Kathleen Cashin, the decision was made to apply to Channel View.
Now, however, after four months in the program, both Taylor and her mother are disillusioned not only by the program, but by the way the Department of Education and local school leaders treated her when they attempted to move Taylor from the academy to the more traditional Beach Channel High School. “When we had that meeting last year, one of my major concerns was that this was not a new program – that it was the continuation of the old ALPS Program that ran at MS 180 for the past couple of years,” the elder McMahon said. “I asked that question and was told by Cashin that this was a completely new program that had nothing to do with ALPS.”
“That was false advertising,” McMahon says now. “I never would have allowed my daughter to go into the ALPS Program. When Taylor began to have doubts about the program, I went to Pat Tubridy, the principal of Channel View and asked her why my daughter was constantly being told to emulate the former ALPS students, because ‘they knew how to do it.’ I never would have applied had I know then what I know now.”
The problems started for Taylor almost immediately.
“We didn’t know until a week before school that the students would have to wear uniforms,” her mother says. “We didn’t know that the ninth grade students would not be changing classes like regular high school students do and we did not know that they would be escorted, single-file by their teachers wherever they went.”
“We were also told that the school would take up the entire third floor and that the kids would have no interaction with the Beach Channel students,” she added. “We asked to see the school facilities at the August meeting, but were told that they were not ready. It turns out that the school has one corridor and the kids have to walk, single-file, in their uniforms, through throngs of Beach Channel students who continually taunt them and call them names when they walk to the bathroom, the lunchroom or when they are moving anywhere in the hallways.”
“There is less freedom for the high school students in the Channel View Academy than they had when they were in Kindergarten at PS 47,” McMahon added.
Principal Patricia Tubridy defends her policies, however.
“There are not a lot of problems,” she told The Wave. “Some kids were unhappy and we arranged for them to get another placement, but most of the kids in the program are very happy.”
Tubridy admits that all of her students, including the ninth graders, are escorted wherever they go.
“This is a big school,” she says. “We have the B Wing of the school and our students have to travel to lunch and to gym. My teachers escort their students because it is my concern that my students remain safe in the building.”
She says that the two students who left “came from a small school and did not want to stay in another small school.”
As for the uniform policy, Tubridy says that some of the kids dislike it, but that the parents “love it.”
“I got a three minute ovation when I announced the uniform policy at the August orientation meeting,” she says.
She also denied that her students are teased by Beach Channel High School students.
“I have seen none of that, and Principal Morris [the principal of Beach Channel High School] assures me that there is some minor teasing, but nothing major going on.”
“This is not a huge issue here,” Tubridy added. “When you open a new school in a larger building you have to protect your students.”
Gerry Guerra, the mother of ninth grade student Michael Guerra, does not agree with Tubridy.
“My son was seriously depressed after entering Channel View,” she told The Wave, “He was so unhappy with being treated like an elementary school student that he was failing everything and the school never notified me.”
“We were told by the administration at PS 47 that Beach Channel High School was not a consideration for PS 47 students because of all of the problems that it has been having,” she said. “The principal told us that we should apply to Channel View instead and that every students from PS 47 who applied would be accepted to the program.” She believes now that students were told that Channel View as their only local option because the principal of PS 47 is Patricia Tubridy, the sister-in-law of the Channel View principal.
“They wouldn’t allow us to see the school,” Guerra added. “I didn’t find out about the uniforms until a week before schools started and my son told me that he did not want to wear a uniform in high school.”
“He wanted a high school experience,” she said. “He couldn’t get that at the Channel View school.”
The two women, who know each other from the community, decided to transfer their children from the Channel View Academy to Beach Channel High School.
“When I went in to get my daughter a transfer, I stood in the hallway at 1:50 in the afternoon. The Channel View grades 6, 7 and 8 were coming out of the cafeteria. The grade 9 Channel View kids were going in. The Beach Channel students were being dismissed,” McMahon related. “I have never seen anything like it. The Channel View kids were walking in a single line, wearing their uniforms and they were being yelled at by the teachers and taunted by the Beach Channel students. They were being tormented.”
When McMahon finally got transfer papers, she and Guerra went first to the Region Five office and then to St. Marks Place. At first they were told that the transfers would be allowed, but when they got back to Beach Channel they were told that they had no right to transfer to that school.
They were offered a transfer to Far Rockaway High School as well.
“I’m assuming that school officials can’t afford for the Channel View program to fail and they want to keep the ninth graders in the program at all costs,” McMahon says. “I was told that there are more than twenty parents [out of the 50 ninth graders in the program] who have submitted letters asking for a transfer.” Tubridy denies that allegation, however, stating that only a “small amount” of students have had problems in the new school.
The two parents finally went to Denis Walcott, the mayor’s liaison to the public schools and he sent them to see Gwen Hopkins, the DOE’s liaison between the city’s parents and the schools.
Hopkins looked into the transfer problem and the two women were finally granted transfers to Beach Channel High School for their children.
Now, the parents report that both of their children are happy with their new placement in Beach Channel High School.McMahon is on the swim team and doing well. Guerra has come out of his depression and is enjoying “the high school experience,” according to his mother.
McMahon says that there are lots of questions about the Channel View program that should be answered.
For example, she said, the program was touted as a special program with specific academic standards. Yet, she argues, every student from PS 47 was accepted, including one who had been left back twice at that school. Other parents defend the new school.
One such parent, who asked not to be identified because her ninth grade son remains in the program, said that she liked the discipline of the new program.
“You look at the rest of the building and it is chaos,” she said. “It is necessary for the Channel View students to be isolated and protected by the staff during the day. That is the only way I would let my son go to that school.”
She added that she likes the idea of uniforms and does not agree that wearing the uniforms makes her son a “target” for the Beach Channel High School students.
“The uniforms are good and the idea of escorting the students is good, even if it seems that they are being treated like children. If it were not for that, he would be in parochial school somewhere.”