DOE axes another school

IS 231 will stop admitting new freshman students this fall. Photo by Ivan Pereira
By Ivan Pereira

After weeks of delays and rescheduling, the city has decided to close a third southeast Queens school as part of its massive plan to restructure the failing institutions in the city.

The city Panel for Educational Policy voted 7-4 March 23 to halt freshman enrollment IS 231, at 145-00 Springfield Blvd., at the start of the new school year. The city Department of Education will place two new middle schools, IS 355 and IS 356, in the Springfield Gardens campus and phase out the old school.

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) said he was upset the city did not give the school a second chance — especially after the principal was working on new ways to improve academics and discipline at the institution.

“The school community at 231 had come up with big plans last year that they believed would make a difference. One year was not enough to see if it would make a difference,” he said.

Sanders could not go into detail about what Principal Emmanual Lupin’s turnaround plan entailed. Lupin did not return a phone call for comment.

The four dissenting votes came from panel members who were appointed by the borough presidents from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, a DOE spokesman said.

Last month, the panel voted to phase out Jamaica and Beach Channel high schools and in April it will vote to determine if PS 30 in Jamaica will meet a similar fate.

The IS 231 vote was supposed to take place in February, but the DOE pushed it back a month because the agency needed more time to hold meetings with the middle school’s parents to discuss the reasoning behind the phaseouts and to get their feedback.

DOE officials said the four Queens schools, along with 22 other institutions in the other boroughs, were consistently performing poorly and had too many students who did not graduate.

Supporters of the schools, however, said they were never given any chance at turning around their school. Jamaica High teachers said three other schools that share space with them were given new computers and equipment while they were stuck with outdated resources.

The DOE panel tried to shut down Jamaica, Beach Channel and the Campus Magnet Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship Magnet high schools, but its vote was overturned by a New York state judge last year. The judge ruled in favor of the United Federation of Teachers, which sued the DOE over the closings and said parents were not properly informed before the panel voted to close the schools.

The UFT has said it is considering legal action this year to stop the closings, but the union had not taken the city to court as of press time Tuesday.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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