Local ‘Struggling Schools’ Slated For Closure
DOE sources say that the schools are Public School 215 in Wavecrest and the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, a charter school that is now housed in the former Stella Maris High School on Beach 112 Street.
Sources say that the list of schools to be closed is the first step in a long process that will eventually lead to a remedial plan to keep each school open and then turn it around or to close it entirely and reopen the building with a completely different staff and administration.
There will be community meetings, which will begin in the coming weeks, and private meetings between school officials and staff, Department of Education officials and local politicians.
Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said in a prepared statement, “We have begun conversations with 47 schools that we have identified as struggling. The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling. We’ll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options.”
The two schools, the DOE source said, are on the list because they meet specific criteria: they got a D or an F on their most recent progress report, or a C for the third year in a row; they were on the state’s list of persistently low-achieving schools; or theyreceivedaCorD from the teams of state and city officials who were sent to review them.
In addition, other criteria for struggling schools are declining or stagnant enrollment or performance based on standardized tests.
PS 215 is on the list because it received a C, a D and an F in the past three reports, while PPA is on the list because it received C’s for the past three years, officials say.
Local attorney Betty Leon, who is the chairman of PPA’s Board of Directors, says that the stories done in the daily papers saying that the school was going to be closed are “misleading,” and that the entire process is “unfair.”
“There is a remedial process that has to be done before any decisions are made,” she said. “Ours is slated for November 17 and we are going to show the committee who comes to the school what we are really about, that they will see great rigor and great education.”
Leon worries, however, that the people on the committee will have no educational expertise and will not know what they are looking at.
“This is very frustrating,” she said. “They come to the school and look at classrooms without knowing anything about what should be going on in those classrooms.”
Leon says that her school, for example, has the best Parent Teacher Organization attendance of any school in the city, about 50 percent.
The stereotypes about charter schools, she adds, are not true when it comes to PPA.
“We have ten percent special education students, about the same as the public schools,” she said. “We don’t cherry pick students nor do we expel students that present a special problem. We work through the problems faced by at-risk students.”
And, she does not think that earning C’s on a school report card indicates a problem that requires closing the school.