By Ivan Pereira
For the second time, the city has postponed its vote on the future of a southeast Queens school following concerns that parents’ opinions on the matter were not properly heard.
The city Panel for Educational Policy was scheduled to vote on the phase-out proposal for IS 231, at 145-00 Springfield Blvd., during a special meeting Tuesday night, but postponed it to March 23 just hours before the meeting started. The panel already decided to stop admitting students at Jamaica and Beach Channel high schools for the next school year and create new institutions in buildings, but a representative from the city Department of Education said it needed to hold another public hearing with IS 231 parents before it could make a decision.
The panel will also vote on the future of PS 30 in Jamaica during March 23 hearing.
“We will be inviting the School Leadership Team and local Community Educational Council to join us, and will move forward with a vote,” DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said of the unscheduled parent hearing.
Lawrence McClean, the district manager for Community Board 13, said the board sent a letter to the DOE that asked them to hold off on the closure and take a stronger look at the phase-out procedures, which he claimed were not done properly for the Springfield Gardens middle school.
“I’m concerned that some of the records are skewered,” he said.
IS 231 received a D grade during this year’s school report cards due to a large number of failing students and poor attendance, according to McClean. The raw data did not paint an accurate picture of the school because foster kids made up a large percentage of the student population, the district manager said.
Those students did not always start the school year at the beginning of September or end it in June because of their changing family situations, McClean said.
“There were some kids who were doing well and they went to another school and [their grades] were not recorded at 231,” he said.
The PEP votes on IS 231 and PS 30 were supposed to be done last month. However, inclement weather postponed the mandated parent hearings for both institutions in January.
Teachers and students at Jamaica and Beach Channel have also urged the DOE to give them another chance because they contended their schools did not get the same resources to improve as other institutions. Three schools that were placed inside Jamaica High’s campus, at 167-01 Gothic Drive, over the last couple of years received new computers and SMART boards while Jamaica High did not, according to teachers.
Last year the DOE voted to shut down Jamaica, Beach Channel and the Campus Magnet School’s Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School, but that decision was overturned by a judge following a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers.
Although the UFT has been coy about whether or not it will take more action in the courts this year, elected officials in southeast Queens have said they are going to fight the DOE. James Eterno, the UFT chapter leader for Jamaica High School, said he and 25 other teachers met with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) last week to discuss their plans to stop the closings.
City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Ozone Park), who represents PS 30, at 66-00 116th Ave., has indicated that he is working on an injunction against the city to prevent the closings. The injunction proposal is being supported by Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), state Assembly members William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica) and state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica).
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.