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.
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.