2006-09-08 / Community

Channel View Parents Beat DOE For Their Own Door

Protest At CVSR Brings Instant Relief
By Howard Schwach


Parents whose children attend the Channel View School For Research at Beach Channel High School line up to protest the fact that the Department of Education closed the private entrance that had been used by the children for three years, forcing them to mix with much older and bigger teens at the traditional high school.
Parents whose children attend the Channel View School For Research at Beach Channel High School line up to protest the fact that the Department of Education closed the private entrance that had been used by the children for three years, forcing them to mix with much older and bigger teens at the traditional high school. The old saw that you can't fight city hall is probably more true than not, but a group of parents whose children attend the Channel View School For Research at Beach Channel High School found on Tuesday that they can fight the city's Department of Education (DOE) and actually win.

Opened within the host high school, CVSR is a small, grades 6-12 school of choice for Rockaway students. From the beginning, the promise was that the younger CVSR students, some as young as 11, would be kept strictly separated from the older teens who attend the high school program. CVSR now registers 409 students in grades 6-10, according to the DOE's Website.

And, that promise was kept until the opening day of school, when the majority of parents learned that a decision had been made to use only one door and one metal scanning machine at the beginning of school each day.

CVSR students line up with BCHS students on Tuesday morning as principal Patricia Tubridy watches closely.
CVSR students line up with BCHS students on Tuesday morning as principal Patricia Tubridy watches closely. That forced the younger students, all wearing the neat blue and white school uniforms mandated by CVSR to mix with the older students, many in baggy jeans and doo-rags, each day.

Those parents who had heard of the new procedures the Thursday before at an orientation meeting, decided to protest at the opening of school last Tuesday morning and about 30 parents showed up.

"They can't mix our 11-year-olds with the 18 and 19-year-olds who attend the high school," parent Ann Marie Miline told The Wave at the school on Tuesday morning. "They're all wearing uniforms and you might as well put a 'kick me' sign on their backs."

"This is a safety issue," she added. "Can you imagine these little kids caught in the middle of a fight between some of the high school students?"

Some of the more than 30 parents of CVSR students join in the BCHS courtyard to protest the DOE decision to close their door.
Some of the more than 30 parents of CVSR students join in the BCHS courtyard to protest the DOE decision to close their door. Gayle Sanders, a postal worker was at the protest with her husband, Craig, who works for the MTA.

"The school system told us when we applied for this school that it was supportive of children, that it would be a safe haven for my 12-year-old child. It surely doesn't look that way to me," Gayle Sanders said.

"They're just begging the older teens to pick on the younger children," her husband added. "Unless the school can provide us with a reasonable idea of why they took our door away, they had better give it back."

While nobody is sure as to why the school's door was locked and as to who made the decision, Sharon Hall-Frey, the PTA president at CVSR said in a prepared statement that the decision was made by the Commanding Officer of the NYPD's Office of School Safety, Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson.

Nobody at the school seemed to know the reason. A person who answered the phone at the Office of School Safety referred the caller to the DOE's press office. Assistant Chief Gerald Nelson was not available for comment. "We were told that it wasn't a monetary decision," officials at the school said. "We were not told the reason for the decision."

"We have always had our own two safety officers to do the screening in the morning," Hall-Frey says. We don't know why we lost them."

"Our kids should be in the building, learning," Craig Saunders said. "They should not be out here protesting for their own safety."

A spokesperson for the Department of Education promised that she would check with Kathleen Cashin, the Region Five Superintendent to find out why the decision was made and what could be done to change the decision.

Shortly after speaking with the DOE, the spokesperson called back to say that Cashin had issued a statement that the school's private doors would be reopened to CVSR students on Wednesday morning.

"This is really a victory for the parents," Hall-Frey told The Wave after learning that the decision had been reversed. "It shows what parents can do when they act together."

The parent's enthusiasm was dampened on Wednesday morning, however, when the door was open, but the metal scanning device was broken and could not be used. CVSR students once again had to mix with BCHS students at the one open door.

The DOE promised parents that the problem would be fixed before the end of the week, however.

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