At a sometimes raucous March 11th meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, the Mayor Bloomberg-controlled Panel rejected the efforts of Queens PEP rep Dmytro Fedkowskyj and Manhattan PEP rep Patrick Sullivan both of whom called for a moratorium on school closures, phase-outs, and co-location proposals. Fedkowsky, appointed by Borough President Helen Marshall, has increasingly become an opponent of many of the Mayor’s policies as they have ravaged more and more neighborhood schools. He joined Sullivan in presenting the resolution which was supported by most of the hundreds of attendees, many of whom used their two minutes of speaking time to support the moratoriums.
Over the past five years Rockaway has seen both its large comprehensive high schools either closed or in the process of being phased out.
Fedkowskyj questioned the DOE’s process of communicating to parents the rationale for phasing out schools and the process for providing support they claim to have given schools before and after the phase out process. “This month’s agenda is excessive and out of control after 11 years of mayoral control…Too many of our school communities are being targeted year after year by the Mayor. He steamrolls past parents without providing specific targeted support for struggling school communities,” said Fedkowskyj in introducing the moratorium resolution.
Melvin Hydleburg, one of the two student reps in the Panel, a student at Lehman HS in the Bronx, which has repeatedly been threatened with closing during his entire tenure there and was pulled off the closing schools list a few weeks before the March 11th vote, spoke about the negative impact on the high school experience for thousands of students going through the school closing process over the Bloomberg era. “There are students here tonight that could be home doing homework…I know how they feel and it sucks…It’s about the students and how they are affected.”
In the end, the PEP voted down the call for a moratorium by a vote of 8-3 with the Brooklyn rep abstaining. At the end of the long meeting that began at 6 p.m. and ended around 11 p.m. they voted to close another 22 schools despite the pleas of parents, students, teachers and a slew of politicians.