Resistance to charter school in IS 383 continues

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Despite the go-ahead from the Department of Education, District 32’s Community Education Council and Community Board 4, a small group of parents from I.S. 383 Philippa Schuyler School for the Gifted continue to demonstrate against the placement of the charter school Achievement First within I.S. 383’s 1300 Greene Avenue campus.

Department of Education officials told parents that Philipa Schuyler will be sharing space with Achievement First, a network of high-performing charter schools based in Crown Heights, in August. Achievement First had been looking to move from Ocean Hill-Brownsville into Bushwick, closer to where most of its students live.

“We didn’t receive any pushback at all until this matter went to the hearing where there were alumni from the school and parents who were just opposed to the idea,” said Lesley Redwine, director of external relations at Achievement First.

Several parents became frustrated that they were not involved in the decision and suggested alternative sites in Bushwick for Achievement First to move, including the CEC District 32 headquarters, I.S. 296, two Catholic schools, and a Baptist school, although the Department of Education (DOE) has not responded to their inquiries, according to the parents. If the plan goes through, Achievement First Bushwick will be located in twelve classrooms on the fourth floor of the I.S. 383 campus.

Some parents, such as Mitzi Chambers, have expressed concerns that space will be limited and activities could be cut next year.

“I brought my daughter into this school and I don’t believe she will get all the activities if another school comes in,” said Chambers

Meanwhile, Redwine and Achievement First staff have met with Community Board 4, Community Education Officials, and I.S 383’s principal and staff. members to try to make the transition as smooth as possible.

“Here is an opportunity to bring a school in to take students who are not performing well and provide an option of college,” Redwine said. “This is an opportunity to provide Bushwick which has struggled for years to perform and produce students on this path. This is great, this is wonderful and what we should be doing.”

I.S. 383 Principal Barbara Sanders has been supportive of the venture, meeting with Redwine and community board members at a CB 4 Youth and Education Committee meeting in May.

“Co-location has worked in other schools in the community and throughout the city,” CB 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted said. “I think that all students should have an opportunity for education wherever they can get it.”

Redwine shrugs off the criticism from parents but hopes that the majority of community members in Bushwick will embrace Achievement First’s presence by the time they move into the school building in August.

“We have received and Ms. Sanders has received notification from DOE on this,” Redwine said. “There has been no evidence of the contrary that would lead them to change their mind.”

I.S. 383 parents are planning two more rallies at the school later this month and others throughout the summer.

“If there is no reversal by August 25, the day [the DOE] puts them in there, we’ll be outside demonstrat­ing,” Phillip said.

Updated 3:46 pm, October 19, 2011
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