By Madina Toure
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and the Chinese-American Planning Council will host a carnival in the Flushing/Northeast region this summer for all children in the neighborhood after some students at PS 120 were banned from a school carnival last week for not paying the required fee.
Nearly 100 low-income students whose parents did not pay a $10 admission fee for the carnival, which took place outside on school grounds, were forced to sit in the auditorium of the school, located at 58-01 136th St.
The carnival will take place June 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the PS 120 playground. F&T Group, a global development company whose global headquarters is based in downtown Flushing, is a main sponsor for the carnival, and Kim is trying to engage local folks.
Kim said City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) are all on board with then carnival.
But he said he is unsure that the school is open to hosting the carnival.
“We reached out to PS 120 last week immediately following the controversy, but they seem to be deferring to the Board of Education and other people so I’m not sure if they’re going to be open to having another carnival at their school,” Kim said.
Janice Won, CPC’s interim president and CEO, said the organization has a history of providing culturally appropriate and inclusive programs and events.
“With support from members of the community, CPC will organize a carnival open to all children and their families regardless of their socio-economic level,” Won said in a statement.
Stavisky sent a letter dated May 27 to Danielle Dimango, superintendent of Community School District 25, which covers Flushing, asking her office to investigate the incident and for an explanation of guidelines for events during school hours that require additional payment from students.
The DOE said it is investigating the matter.
“We are investigating the allegations that students whose families didn’t pay were not allowed to participate in a school celebration, a violation of DOE regulations.” Devora Kaye, a DOE spokeswoman, said in an email.
Gary Pincus, president of Send in the Clowns Entertainment, the New Hyde Park-based company that hosted the carnival at the school, initially planned to host a free carnival for the students who were banned but decided to host it for all students.
Although he has selected 10 possible school days in June for the carnival, he said he has yet to hear back from Dimango and PS 120’s principal, Joan Monroe.
He also said Kim and the CPC did not reach out to him about their plans to hold the carnival, but has been in touch with Koo’s office.
“I’d rather just do it for everybody,” Pincus said. “I just want everybody happy, the kids happy. At the end of the day, it’s for the kids.”
Kim said he was planning to speak with Pincus.
“We want to collaborate as much as possible,” he said.
Koo said that out of the 100 students, about 34 students turned in slips from their parents stating they did not want their kids to attend the carnival.
He said his office met with a few people from the school’s PTA and that communication seemed to be an issue.
“The principal has to have more open communication with the PTA because they misunderstood each other,” he said.
The incident also caused frustration among individuals outside of Flushing. New Jersey resident Pam Jenoff said she was in the city for a book expo when she learned of the situation.
She reached out to Pincus, Kim, Stavisky and Koo.
“I just wanted to see if I could help make a difference help to make these kids feel better,” Jenoff said.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour