A controversial charter school has set its sights on School District 22.
After failing to secure a location in Districts 20 and 21, which span Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, Borough Park, Coney Island and Bensonhurst, the team behind the proposed Brooklyn Dreams Charter School is now looking for a home in District 22, which includes Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach and parts of Midwood, Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay.
“We will more than likely be hosting a public hearing on July 22 at 7 p.m. at 5619 Flatlands Avenue,” said Christopher Spinelli, president of District 22’s Community Education Council (CEC).
Although Brooklyn Dreams is applying to open in District 21, the school’s leaders have “identified a possible site” in District 22, according to the State University of New York (SUNY) Charter Schools Institute, which is reviewing Brooklyn Dreams’ application.
The school could be approved for one district but ultimately open in another, a city Department of Education (DOE) spokesperson said.
Spinelli offered his thoughts on the possibility of a charter school opening in District 22, especially since charters are meant for struggling school districts.
“This is the last district it should be going into,” he said. “Last year, we were the only district in Brooklyn that was in good standing.”
Considering the importance of the public hearing, Spinelli said it should have been held in the fall – when classes are in session and parents are more involved in school matters.
“This is another way to subvert parents and community input by having these meetings that have to be thrown together very quickly and over the summer when a lot of people are on vacation and not connected to the schools,” Spinelli said.
Spinelli said he was contacted this week by the DOE and asked to schedule a public hearing immediately.
Under state law, a public hearing must be held within 30 days of an application being filed. However, Brooklyn Dreams resubmitted its application (for the third time) last November. The SUNY Charter Schools Institute recently realized that a hearing was never held and requested that a forum be scheduled, explained Cynthia Proctor, the Institute’s director of public affairs.
When its earlier application was unveiled in Districts 20 and 21 last summer, parents and educators criticized the Brooklyn Dreams team for selecting National Heritage Academies to run the school.
According to published reports, some of the company’s schools have opted to teach creationism as a scientific theory.
The SUNY Charter Schools Institute says Brooklyn Dreams is still partnered with National Heritage.
William Girasole, co−lead applicant for Brooklyn Dreams and the owner of Girasole Real Estate in Dyker Heights, did not return calls for comment for this story.
However, he has previously insisted that Brooklyn Dreams would abide by separation of church and state laws.
“We are a public school,” Girasole said. “We are not a Catholic school. We do not teach creationism. We don’t teach any type of religion. We aren’t anything but a public school.”
Brooklyn Dreams hopes to open in a private facility in 2010 and eventually expand to hold grades kindergarten through eight.
©2009 Community News Group
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