Beach Channel HS will not be shuttered

By Howard Koplowitz

Beach Channel High School, which was pegged for closure after the end of the school year by the city Department of Education, has been spared from facing its demise — at least for now.

The school was one of 19 the DOE wanted to close until Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis ruled against the agency Friday, contending the DOE failed to hold adequate public hearings on the closures, among other reasons.

But Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the agency have vowed to appeal the ruling.

Beach Channel is the only public high school in Rockaway following the closing of Far Rockaway HS after the 2007-08 school year.

“I’m glad that the Board of Education was slapped because they look at the rules and say, ‘We’re going to do it our way,’” said state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach), whose district includes Beach Channel HS.

A DOE spokesman could not be reached for comment nor could City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) or Community Board 14.

Pheffer said Beach Channel was set up for failure by the agency.

“It was almost destined to fail and maybe they should’ve invested some resources in the school,” Pheffer said. “I think they could’ve done more to help the school overcome” its issues.

The assemblywoman said Beach Channel needs more teachers, smaller class sizes and an expanded summer school program.

She said one of her constituents in Rockaway needed to take a summer school class that was not provided by Beach Channel, forcing the student to take a lengthy trip for classes.

“The summer schools should be on the peninsula,” Pheffer said.

The DOE disclosed its plan to shutter Beach Channel in December, saying the school’s low graduation rate was unacceptable.

“We know that closing a school is a consequential decision and a difficult decision for the school community,” a DOE spokesman earlier told TimesLedger Newspapers. “This is not intended as punishment for teachers and administrators. We cannot continue to ask students to attend the school when they have less than a 50 percent chance of graduating.”

Two years ago Beach Channel had a graduation rate of 46 percent and one year ago it was 46.9 percent, according to the DOE.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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