2010-12-31 / Community

PPA Seeks Split With Educational Partner

By Howard Schwach

The Peninsula Preparatory Academy wants to drop its educational partner. to drop its partner. Pic tured, Pictured, Principal Ericka Wala with two of her young students. Principal Ericka Wala with two of her young students. The Peninsula Preparatory Academy wants to drop its educational partner. to drop its partner. Pic tured, Pictured, Principal Ericka Wala with two of her young students. Principal Ericka Wala with two of her young students. The Peninsula Preparatory School (PPA), a charter school that was founded by State Senator Malcolm Smith and that moved at the beginning of the school year to the former Stella Maris High School building, is attempting to make another sea change.

The school, in a move that puzzles many local school observers, is moving to separate from its long-time educational partner, Victory Schools and to adjust both its social studies curriculum and its class size limits.

A mandatory public hearing on the charter school’s application will be held at the school, 111-11 Rockaway Beach Boulevard at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 6.

The public hearing is open to anybody interested in the change, a Department of Education spokesperson said.

The school is an authorized charter school, chartered by the New York City Department of Education.

Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, a DOE spokesperson, said this week that the DOE is required to hold a public hearing for any charter revision, but that he did not know why the school was proposing the changes.

“The rationale for wanting to disassociate from Victory {Schools] is something that the school needs to speak to.”

School officials, however, were not available due to the holiday break this week. The telephone number listed for the school went unanswered.

When the charter school moved to the former high school building in September, school principal Ericka Wala said, “We are very excited to be provided with the opportunity to move to the new building. We have all of the things we need for our students at that building.”

There has been some controversy in the past over the relationship between Smith and Victory Schools.

A report by the Daily News investigative team said last year that officials at Victory Schools, the educational partner for the charter school, donated heavily to Smith’s campaigns.

Smith claimed at the time, however, to have cut all ties to the school after being appointed Senate President pro tempore.

In September, Wala told The Wave, “We plan to continue Stella Maris’ legacy of educational greatness.”

According to state and city statistics, however, PPA has not yet reached educational greatness.

The school received a grade of C on its latest city progress report, with 51 points out of 100. Ninety-eight percent of the elementary and middle schools in the city received either an A or B. Only 1.4 percent of the city’s schools received a C.

In addition, 12 percent of the school’s 18 teachers are not certified and a full one-third have been teaching fewer than three years.

The teacher turnover rate at the school, according to the latest state statistics, is 39 percent, meaning more than a third of the teachers leave the school each year, to be replaced by new staff.

Officials at Victory Schools declined to comment on the application for a separation between it and PPA.

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