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About three dozen educators and community activists braved pouring rain and a hail of political criticism to join City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, and Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott in honoring Senator Frank Padavan, by naming a Glen Oaks educational campus after him.
The Glen Oaks campus, which is the home to the magnet Queens High School of Teaching, P.S./I.S. 266 and P.S./I.S. 208, was renamed the Frank Padavan Campus, in the official ceremony on Monday, April 28.
Klein praised the 18-term (2 year terms) incumbent, saying the campus “came into being because of the extraordinary work of Senator Padavan.” Deputy Mayor Dennis Wolcott also praised Padavan for his efforts.
Although the event was deemed “bi-partisan,” the only elected Democrat in attendance was Assemblymember Barbara Clark, who represents the 30th District, just south of the campus.
P.S./I.S. 208 is in Community Education District 29, which serves children from Clark’s district.
She, too had kind words for the Republican Senator, who is said to be facing his most serious political challenge in decades in this November’s election.
The decision by the city to rename the campus after the 37-year veteran Republican Senator has been denounced as “a political stunt” by Democrats.
Assemblymember Mark Weprin, who sponsored the companion bill in the Assembly to transfer the land to the city, was not at the dedication, but sent a senior staffer to represent him. “I only learned about it the week before and had a schedule-conflict,” he said.
However Weprin’s brother, Councilmember David Weprin, who represents the area but did not attend, was candid in his disapproval of the move.
“Both the decision and the timing are blatantly political,” Councilmember Weprin said. “To rely on the technicality - it’s against the rules to name a school after a living person, so you name a whole campus after them - is outrageous.”
Padavan’s opponent in this November’s election, City Councilmember James Gennaro, called the Bloomberg administration’s decision “an in-kind contribution” to Padavan’s campaign.
The campus is located within the confines of what had been New York State’s Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.
In the late 1990s, the state determined that much of the land was surplus to its needs. Padavan was the first to approach the city with the proposition that the land would be ideal for location of public schools.
“I was involved in this project before the chancellor and the mayor and a lot of other people were in office,” Padavan observed during his remarks.
“We consulted with the community, the Department of Education and the State Department of Mental Health … we even worked on traffic patterns so that parents could drop off their children without inconveniencing the community,” he said.
Padavan seemed unfazed by the uproar among Democrats, especially about the timing.
“State legislators have two-year terms,” he carefully explained to a questioner. “There’s hardly a time when you couldn’t make that argument,” he said of the timing.
When pressed as to why the “extraordinary move” was made, Klein responded, “It was an extraordinary circumstance. These schools wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Frank Padavan.”
When pressed further, Klein quipped, “If anybody else can come up with another campus for schools, we’d be glad to name it after them.”

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