‘Charter’ territory! Parents in ‘failing’ MS 571 fight to keep out elite school

Prospect Heights parents slammed the city on Monday night for moving to close a poorly performing middle school to make room for an elite charter school from outside the neighborhood.

PS 9 parents have all but given up their fight to save MS 571 — a struggling middle school that shares their Underhill Avenue building — and are now focusing on blocking the city push to bring in Brooklyn East Collegiate Charter School from Crown Heights.

The parents claim that the PS 9 building is overcrowded — and, besides, if a middle school is coming in, PS 9 administrators want it to be an expansion of their school, not an outside one.

“If their plan includes a new school, our principal should be in charge of the curriculum instead of both schools competing for space,” PS 9 parent Natalie Nevares said at a rally on Monday night at the school.

Parents from the charter school and PS 9 packed the school’s auditorium for a Department of Education hearing on the merger. Brooklyn East Collegiate, which opened last year as only a fifth grade program, is looking for a new home because its current space is temporary and it will now operate with two grade levels.

MS 571 is on the chopping block because its students have scored in the bottom 10 percent on math tests, and the bottom two percent on English tests in recent years.

The school earned a D grade on its city progress report last year, which gave it F grades in categories including student performance, progress and overall “school environment.”

But Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) argued that there have been “improvements” at the middle school.

“The Department of Education has failed to help [these] students succeed,” James told parents at a rally late last year. “And it has overlooked state test scores, which show improvements.”

City officials dismissed the state evaluation as essentially meaningless.

“The state progress report [that James cited] is a one-year snapshot that is broad and uniform — we’re more hands on and the school has done horribly,” said Education spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

MS 571’s principal, Santosha Troutman, has been unreachable for weeks.

Opponents of the closure also complain that the city hasn’t funneled enough resources to the middle school, but statistics show otherwise. The city spends $18,907 per student at MS 571 each year, which is more than $4,000 more than it spends on average citywide, according to expenditure reports.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote at Brooklyn Tech HS [29 Fort Greene Pl. at DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, (212) 374-0208], Feb. 3, 6 pm.