2010-01-22 / Top Stories

Pheffer: DOE Breaking Law In BCHS Closing

By Howard Schwach

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer awaits her turn to speak at a Beach Channel High School meeting in December. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer awaits her turn to speak at a Beach Channel High School meeting in December. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer believes that the Department of Education has violated the new school governance law, by the letter and spirit of the law, in the way that its officials have handled the phase-out and closing of Beach Channel High School.

She outlined her concerns in a January 14 letter to Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

“The NYCDOE has remained steadfast in their actions to close BCHS and issued the document, Proposal for Significant Change in Utilization of School Building Q410, released on December 7, 2009.” Pheffer wrote. “This document details the justification for closure of BCHS and the actions that will be taken. These actions appear to be in non-compliance with the NYS School Governance Laws.” Pheffer continues, “The School Governance Law, Chapter 345 of 2009, contains regulations and procedures that must be strictly adhered to. However, it is also essential that the intent of the legislation not be dismissed, which was to “provide for greater parental participation and input, transparency, and accountability in relation to the management and operation of the New York City School District.

DOE officials at the January 6 meeting. DOE officials at the January 6 meeting. “I have been informed that the meeting held at BCHS on January 6, 2010 by the NYCDOE was in fact the meeting that is mandated to be held under §2590-h, subdivision 2-d, which requires that “the chancellor or his or her designee, shall hold a joint public hearing with the impacted community council and school based management team. “I have also been informed by the Community Education Council (CEC) and the School Based Management Team (SBMT) that the hearing was not held jointly with the SBMT & CEC, but rather that they were only notified of the January 6 meeting.

No consultation or discussion took place to formulate the scope of the meeting or an agenda.

“These actions seem to be in direct conflict with §2590-h, subdivision 2, which states that, ‘the chancellor shall consult with the affected community district education council before: a) substantially expanding or reducing such an existing school or program within a community district; b) initially utilizing a community district school or facility for such a school or program; c) instituting any new program within a community district.’

“Additionally, the Educational Impact Statement, distributed by the NYCDOE, clearly states on page 1 paragraph 4 that, ‘the phase-out and eventual closure of Beach Channel will create available space in Q410 to house 27Q324, a new school.’ However, no community meetings have been held nor has input been sought to evaluate and discuss the new 27Q324 school at Q410. “Compliance with these regulations is of vital importance to ensure that parents, students, faculty and the community have ample opportunity to be a part of the process.”

As of Wednesday of this week, a spokesperson for Pheffer says that there has been no response to her letter.

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