A lawsuit could determine the future of several Brooklyn high schools.
The verdict in the United Federation of Teachers’ (UFT) lawsuit to stop the closure of 19 city public schools will likely impact Sheepshead Bay High School at 3000 Avenue X, Franklin D. Roosevelt High School at 5800 20th Avenue, John Dewey High School at 50 Avenue X, and William E. Grady Vocational High School at 25 Brighton Fourth Road.
That’s because these four so-called “persistently lowest achieving” high schools might be included in the next group of schools slated for closure. The city Department of Education (DOE) is considering closing the schools but has yet to make a decision.
Parents, teachers and students have sworn to fight the DOE if it moves to close the schools. Teachers at FDR have already staged a protest, with special education teacher Jorge Mitey promising, “There will be other rallies, there will be writing campaigns and there will be petitions.”
Speaking at last week’s Mill Basin Civic Association meeting, City Councilmember Lew Fidler announced that he and Assemblymember Alan Maisel have joined the UFT’s lawsuit.
“When your proposals can affect the futures of so many, you can’t just go through the motions and ignore the letter and spirit of the law,” Fidler says. “Unfortunately, that’s what has happened here. We’re talking about public education. The Department of Education should be listening to people, investing to fix schools they feel are broken, not abandoning them.”
“Closing schools is unconscionable, unnecessary and will cause real hardship for hardworking families in these neighborhoods. We must fight to keep public education alive in our communities,” said City Councilmember Charles Barron.
“Shuttering the doors on these schools is not a solution, shunting aside the voices of parents and students in these schools is a real problem,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE).
The DOE continues to support its policy of closing schools it considers failing, insisting, “Since 2003, the city has phased out 91 schools and created 335 new schools. High schools citywide, on average, graduate 60 percent of their students, while our new, small high schools graduate 75 percent of their students. When we know we can do better for our students, we must, especially when these high schools are graduating less than one in two of their students. That simply does not meet any standard of success.”