2010-01-01 / Top Stories

Chancellor Blows Off Student Leader

By Howard Schwach

The city’s Department of Education is in the process of phasing out and closing Beach Channel High School. A meeting will be held on January 6 at 6 p.m. to address the process. The city’s Department of Education is in the process of phasing out and closing Beach Channel High School. A meeting will be held on January 6 at 6 p.m. to address the process. School Chancellor Joel Klein blew off a meeting with a student leader from Beach Channel High School last Wednesday, even though the student traveled to Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan with a promised confab in hand. “First they stonewalled me, it was like a low blow,” said BCHS senior Chris Petrillo. “They acknowledged that I had a scheduled meeting, and then they told me that the chancellor was not in the building and sent me home. They did not even allow me to meet with a deputy or somebody. Nobody was available to see me.”

Petrillo told The Wave on Monday that he is “disappointed,” but that he will not give up. The Department of Education an nounced three weeks ago that the school would be phased out by 2013 and then closed.

A new school, designated as 27Q324, will begin operations in the building in September of 2010, DOE officials say. The new school, which will eventually house 432 students in grades 9 to 12, will share the building with the existing Channel View School for Research, which recently started a high school component as well.

Some opponents of the closing charged at a recent meeting that the building will eventually be handed over to State Senator Malcolm Smith for a high school component of his charter school, The Peninsula Preparatory Academy (PPA).

The elementary component of that school now operates in a series of trailers in Arverne By The Sea.

Opponents of the closing say that the school lost all of the better students to both the Channel View School for Research, which shares the same building with BCHS, and the Scholars’ Academy, the district’s gifted magnet school, which is right across the street.

The DOE website says that the school houses 1,330 students. Of those, 240 receive English as a Second Language services and 239 have Individual Education Plans denoting special education services.

That means more than one-third of the students at the comprehensive high school have special needs.

The DOE held a public meeting to announce the closing and to address questions from the school community and local residents.

At that meeting, held at the school on December 15, District Superin tendent Michelle Lloyd-Bay told the 125 participants that the school had to close because it was no longer serving its students. Lloyd-Bay told the meeting, “We are only messengers here. This is done, and the question is, how do we move forward?” “The statistics show that this school is no longer equipped to help students move ahead,” she added. “The parents have expressed their dissatisfaction and it is time to phase out and close the school.” Yet, according to the results of the last school survey, completed in the 2008-2009 school year, statistics on the DOE’s own website show that, while less than half of the parents completed the survey, of those who responded, 81 percent of the parents said that they were “happy” with the education their children were getting at BCHS.

In addition, 83 percent of those parents who responded said that they had an adequate opportunity to be involved in their child’s educational experience. Why then, if the parents are not unhappy with the school and it received a “proficient” rating, is the school being closed?

Calls to Lloyd-Bay, who is not responsible for the district’s high school, but was the only local school official present at the last meeting, did not return calls for clarification.

DOE officials say that the previous high school superintendent for District 27 was promoted to the superintendency of another district and a new District 27 high school superintendent has not yet been designated. It seems, however, that the DOE is sending a mixed message by closing a school that the agency itself says is improving. One of the areas in which the school is doing well, the Quality review says, is working with fewer teachers and less money.

“The school’s use of a diminishing array of resources does not affect student learning,” the report says.

The Education Priorities Panel, which has to vote on January 26 whether or not to phase out and close the school, will host a community meeting in the school auditorium at 6 p.m. on January 6.

At that meeting, three commissioners will hear community comments, but there will be no questions allowed.

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