2012-01-20 / Top Stories

Peninsula Preparatory Academy Board Vows To Fight Closure

By Howard Schwach


Lisa George, the president of the parent/teacher organization at Peninsula Prep, announced Tuesday plans for a meeting on January 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss the Department of Education’s decision to close the school and how it would affect all schools in Rockaway. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Lisa George, the president of the parent/teacher organization at Peninsula Prep, announced Tuesday plans for a meeting on January 24 at 6 p.m. to discuss the Department of Education’s decision to close the school and how it would affect all schools in Rockaway. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg In the wake of last week’s announcement that the Department of Education will not renew the charter for the Peninsula Preparatory Academy, the school’s board has vowed to fight the decision and keep the school open.

“Last week’s decision by the DOE to not renew the charter for Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School (PPA) has received intense community opposition,” said a school spokesperson. “The school’s administration, PPA parents, scholars, and community residents met with Queens Community Board 14 on Tuesday and with DOE officials on Thursday to voice collective disapproval on the decision to close the school effective July, 2012.”

Members of the PPA community, parents, board members and staff say that fueling the outrage is the shared opinion that the school is not actually failing – but rather has not met recently modified and stricter DOE Charter Schools Office’s guidelines and standards, necessary for charter renewal. The DOE Charter Schools Office routinely engages in a comprehensive evaluation of school performance throughout the span of the charter, and has assigned PPA a grade of ‘C’ in the Student Performance category on the NYC DOE 2010-2011 Progress Report.

The spokesperson said that principal Ericka K. Wala, who joined the school on July 1, 2009, has made significant gains in transforming a struggling school previously assigned an ‘F’ on its first rating in 2006, prior to her arrival, into one which outperforms many public schools throughout the Rockaway peninsula on the student performance index.

“We were a struggling school in 2009 when everybody was A’s and B’s,” Wala said, “and when they raised the standard, we were able to maintain a C. The scores had to have gone up in order to do that. I do feel the school is being used as a warning.”

In the event the school is closed, PPA parents will have to choose between options which include zoned public schools or other private schools.

PPA Parent Teacher Organization member Sharmeka Frasier voiced a concern expressed by many of the parents.

“My son is doing very well academically at PPA,” she said. “He has received music and foreign language instruction, has participated in cultural awareness activities, learns character development and leadership skills, reads at a fourth grade level while in the second grade, and loves going to school every day to learn with the other scholars. If PPA closes where will he go?”

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