By Madina Toure
A carnival company is planning to host a free carnival for about 100 students at PS 120 in Flushing who were banned from participating in a school yard carnival last week because their parents did not pay the required fee.
Banished students sat in the auditorium of the school, located at 58-01 136th St., because their parents were unable to pay the $10 admission fee for the carnival outside on school grounds. Nearly 900 kids participated in the carnival, the New York Post reported.
A representative for PS 120 said the school is not ready to comment on the matter,
Longtime Flushing resident Gary Pincus, president of Send in the Clowns Entertainment in New Hyde Park, said his company plans to host a free carnival for the students, but said the principal has not returned his calls so he can schedule a date. His company ran last week’s carnival at the school.
“We had no idea any of this was going on, that they were charging the kids. If I had known, I would have stopped it and I would have paid for the kids,” Pincus said, saying the decision was “bad judgment on the principal’s part.”
He said that the company was paid by the school’s chapter of the PTA, which booked them for the carnival. However, he said the PTA is putting the blame on the principal and is afraid to stand up to her.
“You guys are supposed to protect the kids, you guys should have jumped in there and said, ‘This is unacceptable,’” Pincus added.
He plans to reach out to City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and others to get the free carnival set up for the students.
Koo said his office has reached out to the DOE as well as school and parent leadership to learn about what happened and how to prevent such an incident from occurring again.
“If this extracurricular activity occurred during school hours and on school property, it should’ve been open to all students,” he said in a statement. “No child should be forced into an embarrassing situation because of language barriers or their financial status, and it should be the responsibility of school leadership to be as inclusive as possible.”
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said she will write a letter to Danielle Dimango, superintendent of School District 25, which covers Flushing, to find out about what policy exists for fund-raising events held during school hours.
She said she feels “sorry” for the students who were excluded from the carnival, noting that most of the students’ parents are immigrants.
“Ten dollars may be nominal to some families but to others, they can’t afford it,” Stavisky said. “People work hard. The other problem could be a language barrier, where the flier may not have been clear.”
She is pleased the company is hosting a festival for the students.
“I’m delighted that the carnival company was going to provide another day for the 100 children who did not go to the first party,” she added. “That shows a community spirit and it shows that businesspeople are sensitive.”
The city Department of Education said it is currently looking into the situation.
“We take this very seriously and are investigating the matter,” Jason Fink, the DOE’s deputy press secretary, said in a statement.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour