Parents: Save Grady High!

William Grady parent Jane Marziliano is demanding the city scrap its plans to close the Brighton Beach high school.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Grady High School is finally making the grade and should be taken off Mayor Bloomberg’s list of struggling schools slated for closure, students, parents, and teachers demanded last week, claiming that the Brighton Beach school’s evaluation scores have jumped from a D to a B in just two years.

“It’s a huge improvement,” said Jane Marziliano, who led a rally in front of William E. Grady Career and Technical School — where her son is a junior — last week, calling for the school to be spared. “The school is fantastic now. It’s outrageous that the city wants to close it.”

The Department of Education plans to shutter the Brighton Fourth Street school this summer and resurrect it as a “turnaround school” with a new name and overhauled staff.

City officials claim that Grady has never been grade-A material: it received a D on its city-issued report card in 2010 — a less-than-stellar score that made it one of the state’s “persistently low achieving” schools.

The city put Grady in a federally funded transformation program that would have brought up to $2 million to the school over three years to improve its performance and tapped Principal Geraldine Maione — who parents credit for the school’s improved scores — to oversee the transition, but the funding never materialized: the city and the United Federation of Teachers failed to agree on a teacher evaluation system, prompting Bloomberg to scrap the federal program in favor of the city’s new turnaround school model.

Under the new model, federal dollars will still come to Grady, but only after the school fires 50 percent of its staff. John Dewey High School and Sheepshead Bay High School are also among the 33 public schools that have been singled out for what some see as a cut-throat program.

But Maione said Grady, which was opened in 1958 as an all-boys school before going co-ed in the early 1990s, should be taken off the list because its performance has improved.

“We’ve met the benchmark to stay open,” Maione said. “I don’t think we should close.”

Department of Education spokesman Frank Thomas insisted that schools like Grady and Dewey would benefit from the new turnaround model.

“This is an opportunity to assess and keep what is working, and also bring in a new wave of talent,” he said.

The city’s Panel for Education Policy will decide Grady’s fate in April.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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