2006-02-17 / Community

FRHS Further Splintered By New KAPPA School

By Howard Schwach


Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides at Far Rockaway High School early last year when the school was taken off the “Most Dangerous School List.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his aides at Far Rockaway High School early last year when the school was taken off the “Most Dangerous School List.” Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week a new middle school for the Far Rockaway community as part of his plan to introduce more small secondary schools into the public school system.

The school, known as the Knowledge and Power Preparatory Academy (KAPPA) VI for grades six to eight, will open in September inside Far Rockaway High School at 821 Bay 25 Street in Bayswater.

The high school building already houses a new series of five small schools under the Far Rockaway High School Campus rubric as well as a Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School.

The idea of a new school within the FRHS building does not sit well with some FRHS staff members.

“They’re splintering the traditional school out of existence,” said one long-time teacher and alumnus, who asked not to be identified because teachers are not authorized to speak with the press. “We have five small schools all with their own administrators and then the Frederick Douglass Academy with about 200 students and its own leadership and now we’re going to have a new middle school with more than 100 kids and its own leadership. This is not going to work.”

School Chancellor Joel Klein leaves FRHS with one of his aides after discussing problems at the school last February. Klein has joined the mayor in the move for more small schools.School Chancellor Joel Klein leaves FRHS with one of his aides after discussing problems at the school last February. Klein has joined the mayor in the move for more small schools. Bloomberg, however, thinks that small schools such as KAPPA VI are the wave of the future.

“I promised you that we’d develop new schools and create new programs to offer our students innovative routes to graduation, jobs and post-secondary education,” the mayor said in 36 new schools, including KAPPA VI, earlier this month. “We’re delivering on that pledge. We’re committed to ensuring that students at every level have more paths to success and these schools will help provide them with opportunities they need and deserve.”

The new school will be run by Replications, Inc., with offices at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University. 2On its website, Replications, Inc. says that it is an organization “dedicated to the replication of successful schools (grades five to twelve) so that every child, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, can attend an academically rigorous public school.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education told The Wave this week that the organization would replicate the “highly-successful” Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) School now running in the Bronx and in other places around the nation. The school will begin in September with approximately 100 students in the sixth grade and will increase each year until its enrollment reaches 300 to 400, according to the DOE spokesperson.

“This is really a strong academic culture,” the spokesperson said. “There is a commitment to excellence on the part of both the parents and the students.”

Students will attend school each day from 8:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday mornings. There is a strict dress code and both students and parents have to sign an “educational contract” that binds them to the program.

Peter Dalton, a former helicopter pilot now attending the mayor’s “Leadership Academy” at Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan, will be the school’s principal.

Dalton did not return numerous telephone calls from The Wave to comment on his new position.

The new schools were selected through a competitive application process, the DOE spokesperson said. The DOE reviewed an initial pool of 128 new school concept papers and invited 89 full proposals before narrowing the number of approved schools to 36.

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