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Parents Bash Charter School Expansion

The city wants Community Roots to increase by taking over space used by PS 67 and P369K.

Nearly 200 parents, students, teachers and local politicians protested on Friday a city proposal to expand a charter school within PS 67, which they said would come at the expense of special needs students’ education.

Outraged parents lined up at a microphone in the school auditorium bashed the Department of Education’s plan, which would increase Community Roots Charter School from 300 to 450 students by 2013 — and shrink available space for PS 67 and P369K, which all share the same building.

“Our children have major issues and require speech, physical and occupational therapy,” said Danita Brown, whose son Elijah, age 9, attends P369K, a school for disabled students with autism. “If they lose this space it will be impossible to meet their needs.”

The DOE proposal was released earlier this month to howls of criticism over the further overcrowding of the PS 67 building.

“I’m not convinced that anyone at the DOE has the best interest of the children in mind,” said Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, “We are not going to allow the students anywhere within PS 67 to be treated like second-class citizens.”

The DOE acknowledges that the plan would make the school building on St. Edwards Street over capacity while simultaneously reducing four classroom spaces for PS 67 and P369K. But the department argues that all three schools are already operating over capacity and that the impact of less classroom space could be minimized through scheduling.

Both PS 67 and Community Roots Charter School have room for improvement, according to the DOE's yearly reports.

Despite extensive parental support and solid test scores, Community Roots received a failing grade in recent city-wide progress reports, a fact that the opposition frequently highlights.

PS 67 is of the lowest performing schools in the district.

School officials did not speak at the event, which was organized by parents from P369K and PS 67. A formal public hearing is set for April 11th, where DOE representatives and school administrators will discuss the proposal in preparation for the deciding vote on April 28 by the so-called Panel for Educational Policy.

The proposal to expand Community Roots Charter School arrives close on the heels of the March 31 decision by New York State Commissioner of Education David M. Steiner to annul the DOE co-location program of Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School to PS9 in Prospect Heights due to overcrowding.

Prospect Heights Parent April 06, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Colin, I don't believe that the parents at PS 369 or PS 67 are driving the opposition to this plan. It's the UFT that is stirring things up, as it does every time there's a co-location involving a charter school. It's in their interest to spread misinformation and turn this into an emotional and political battleground, rather than a calm dialogue about how to create a safe, nurturing environment for children to learn. Of course people are "scared, angry and confused." The UFT and anti-charter forces are making them so, and the DOE's dysfunctional approach only makes things worse. The directors, teachers, and parents of Community Roots will do our best to work toward civilized discourse.
Colin Weatherby April 06, 2011 at 04:08 PM
If this is the case and you have some concrete evidence, I would absolutely love to speak with you further about the UFT involvement. This is a story that should have some exposure. Please contact me at colin.weatherby@gmail.com
Lisa Franklin April 06, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Colin....appreciate your response to my comment. You raise a good point that many of the parents may not be aware that the principals of the 3 schools have been working together. From what I know, all 3 principals with DOE regarding space allocation together. Unfortunately, misinformation does tend to spread in the absence of accurate information. I don't want anyone in my community to be "scared, angry or confused." If that means more accurate information needs to be readily available, then I support that. Community Roots is fundamentally a community school....from its students who walk there from across the street and surrounding blocks; to the building-wide programs that benefit all 3 schools; to the neighborhood studies that involve students interviewing local business owners/employees; to the community service projects that have benefited a senior housing facility right down the street and most recently an after school community service project assisting local shelters. This isn't an issue of a takeover; it's an issue of providing yet another school choice for families in the community in a space that's been analyzed by DOE to offer an opportunity for all 3 schools to co-exist and continue educating our community's greatest asset - its children.
Lisa Franklin April 06, 2011 at 06:43 PM
that should read: "all 3 principals WERE with DOE ON THEIR WALK-THROUGH TOUR regarding space allocation together"
Colin Weatherby April 09, 2011 at 03:56 PM
Hello everyone. Please see my post on potential relocation plans and the recent meeting cancellation. Thank you for your input! http://fortgreene.patch.com/d/articles/city-postpones-community-roots-expansion-vote

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