Today’s news:

Humphrey backlash

A volunteer parents group sent a resolution to the city Department of Education (DOE) criticizing the closure of P.S./M.S. 27, the Agnes Y. Humphrey School for Leadership.

District 15’s Community Education Council (CEC), which advocates for public schools in Red Hook, Park Slope and Sunset Park, passed the resolution at its last meeting.

It chastises the DOE for failing to consult with parents and CEC members prior to announcing the closure of P.S./M.S. 27, located at 27 Huntington Street.

It reads, “New York State education law grants the chancellor the power to close and open schools but only after consulting with the Community Education Council in question and that did not happen in the case of P.S. 27.”

Last December, the DOE decided that it would close P.S./M.S. 27 in June 2009. Seventh- and eighth-graders would remain to finish their middle school years but all other students in grades pre-K to six and nine to 12 would transfer to other schools.

A new small elementary school will open in P.S. 27’s building this September.

News of the intended closure of P.S./M.S. 27 spread so quickly that the DOE didn’t have time to tell parents. Instead, local press outlets did.

As parents reacted in anger, DOE spokesperson Melody Meyer explained, “The press found out about the closures before we had an opportunity to backpack a letter home. It’s not how we intend for parents to find out but when a reporter is going to report a story about school closures, we do want families to have accurate information and as much information as they can get.”

Meyer argued that parents and the CEC had no reason to be blindsided by the closure.

“It is based on factors that the school is well aware of — student performance, student progress, things measured in the progress report, demand for the school, how many parents who live in the school’s zone are choosing to take the students elsewhere, transfer rates out of the school,” Meyer had said. “It shouldn’t be a surprise to any school that’s closing that the school needed drastic change.”

In the weeks following the announcement, P.S./M.S. 27’s 11th-graders have asked that they be allowed to stay for their senior year.

The DOE has yet to make an official decision but it seems likely that the closure will proceed as planned.

“We are having conversations with that community,” Meyer told this paper. “At this point, we still hope to assist each of the high school students in finding a placement in another school. But we have heard the feedback from the community and we haven’t placed any students yet, so we are still working out the logistics.”

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