Safe at PS 200 - Dual-language program to survive

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What could have been a disastrous situation for parents turned into a happy ending.

After parents held a demonstration with state Assemblymember William Colton to protest the elimination of a dual language gifted and talented program for Russian-speaking students at P.S. 200, school officials decided to keep the program as is.

“Now everything is good and I’m very happy,” said Diana Barkan, whose daughter is in the Globe program. “I like this program very much.”

Parents say problems began when they received a letter explaining that prospective kindergarten students would not be admitted to the program in September.

After parents protested the decision, they were contacted by city Department of Education (DOE) staffers who said the program was never in danger.

“Almost the same day [as the protest], I received a phone call from the principal saying she spoke to someone at Tweed who said it’s a misunderstanding, this program was never closed,” explained Inna Fershteyn, who has two children in the program.

But parents argue that they received the aforementioned letters and spoke with the principal about the possible program elimination.

The principal of P.S. 200, which is located at 1940 Benson Avenue, did not return a call for comment by presstime.

Parents are relieved to know that Globe will remain at least through next year.

“My daughter – she didn’t know English very well,” Barkan said. “She had very good Russian and not good English. So she felt bad about it. She was uncomfortable with people that spoke just English.”

But in Globe, “She felt good.”

Colton said students in the program are known to receive high scores and gain admission to top middle schools.

“This is a program that is very important to the neighborho­od,” he said. “The parents are very happy with the program. Hopefully, it’s going to be maintained and it’s going to be strengthened and it should be expanded.”

Fershteyn is trying to create a new “Parent Action Force” to advocate on behalf of parents and students, especially in cases when programs are threatened.

Parents interested in joining should contact Fershteyn at 718-333-2394 and provide their email address.

Updated 3:45 pm, October 19, 2011
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