PS 114 saved! For now…

Parents and teachers from PS 114 apparently convinced the Department of Education not to close the Remsen Avenue school just yet — arguing that a rogue principal was responsible for its downfall, not the staff or curriculum.

The Department of Education’s Panel for Education Policy — which was expected to order the poor-performing school closed on Thursday — gave PS 114 a month long reprieve so it could have time to answer claims by school stakeholders who say principal Maria Pena-Herrara’s poor management left the school $180,000 in debt, setting it on it’s road to ruin. Other schools facing the same performance ax — 22 in all — were ordered phased out.

“After our analysis [of PS 114] is complete, the panel will discuss and vote on the proposal and the replacement school proposals,” the group of mayoral and borough president appointees said in a statement.

A Department of Education spokesman said the panel received comments on its plans to replace PS 114 with both a charter school and a new zoned school via phone and e-mail from concerned parents, teachers and civic leaders up to 6 pm on Feb. 2, but would not say just how much correspondence it received.

The city is supposed to respond to all public comments 24 hours before the vote, but were unable to do so in this case, the spokesman explained.

“We want to give comprehensive answers to everyone involved,” he said.

Yet PS 114’s situation is unique: the school received a “D” grade on its overall progress report and an “F” grade when it came to school environment and student performance, but teachers say they’re not responsible for the school’s poor review.

Teachers and civic leaders claim the effects of Pena-Herrara’s incompetence while she was in charge from 2005 until 2009 are still being felt — and that her being there was the city’s fault.

“[The Department of Education] put in a principal that was an absolute disaster,” explained Assemblyman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie), a retired assistant principal. “This woman even forgot to schedule the school’s graduation! Now [the city’s] using her failures to close the school.”

The same claims were made during the uproarious six-hour Panel for Education Policy meeting at Brooklyn Technical High School Downtown on Feb. 3, where teachers taunted new city School’s Chancellor Cathie Black.

Local civic leaders aren’t willing to claim victory yet despite the reprieve.

“I was hoping that [the city] got the message that they screwed up, but I’m not 100 percent sure that’s what they heard,” Maisel said. “We won’t know if we’ve won until the person of enormous girth sings.”

Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Canarsie) agreed.

“[The delay on the vote] was definitely better than being lumped in with all other schools that the city closed,” he said. “What we have to do now is continue to persuade the city that PS 114 shouldn’t be on that list. Still I remain optimistic.

“After all,” he continued, “I’m a Met fan.”

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