Parent Group: Shut Down Our School!
In the wake of falling test scores, allegations of sexual abuse and problems with the administration, parents at PS 42, located at 488 Beach 66 Street, have passed a resolution calling on the Department of Education to shut down the school.
“We may be the first school in New York City where parents are asking that the school be phased out,” said parent activist and district parent representative Queen Makkada, who, sources say, pressured the parents into supporting her proposal. The sources added that phasing out the school would lead to a restructuring plan with a new staff and new leadership.
In 2006, 35.6 percent of the school’s students were reading on grade level, according to Department of Education statistics.
That percentage rose steadily until last year, when 54.4 percent of the students were rated at grade level.
This year, after the state Department of Education raised the cut score on the tests, only 19.7 percent of the students were making the grade.
After hearing of the proposal to close down the school, Acting Interim Principal Stephanie Martin told Daily News reporter Clare Trapasso that she was unaware of the parent resolution, but that “We have 81 percent of our students in grades 3-8 not meeting the new state reading standards, but I have a plan to get us out of this state.”
In April, a first-grader at the school was allegedly sexually abused by another young student in the school bathroom during an afterschool program.
The alleged sexual assault took place in a bathroom at PS 42 in Arverne. According to a lawyer for the unidentified sixyear old boy, he was participating in the Junior Tennis League afterschool program when he was sodomized by an eight-year- old student while both were in the bathroom with three other boys.
Lawyer Robert Gray told Daily News reporters Rachel Monahan and John Lauinger that the five boys were unsupervised in the bathroom for about a half hour.
“During that time, the eight-year-old sexually assaulted my client,” the attorney said.
Officials confirmed that both boys were taken to the Queens Hospital Center after the incident.
Gray said that the attacker, who had previously bothered the six-year-old has been transferred to another school.
Published reports say that the boy’s mother claimed that the school tried to cover up the attack when an assistant principal called her the next day.
“[The assistant principal] told me not to call the police, that the school was handling everything,” the child’s mother told the reporters.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said that it has no plans to either phase out or close the school.
A new wing is currently being built on the northern end of the school building, and there are talks to use that wing for a separate middle school, but no decisions have yet been made on utilizing the new wing, officials said. The new addition is slated to open in the fall of 2011.
Andrew Baumann, the president of Community Education Council 27, told the Daily News that he wants to make sure that a majority of parents are in agreement with the resolution to close the building.
“If it’s only 20 parents that are signing on to it, then I’ve got to question its validity,” he said.