The Department of Education announced Feb. 19 that it will extend the timeframe of the controversial plan to desegregate school District 28 in order to give parents more say in the process.
The southeastern district, which stretches from Forest Hills down to Jamaica, first announced it would receive funding to study how to best diversify its schools in June. Since then, the plan has been delayed after outcry from parents and heated public meetings.
The plan involves meetings at every elementary and middle school in the district starting in March, where the school officials will give information about the process. Then in May, WXY Studio, a consultant hired by the city DOE to helm the process, will hold six different workshops across the district that will end up influencing the plan’s recommendations.
“This is not a ‘top-down’ process for change; this process relies on District 28 families to make their voices and positions heard. There are no pre-determined outcomes — recommendations will grow exclusively from the community empowerment process detailed below for a planned release in December 2020,” wrote DOE officials in the letter updating the timetable.
In addition to providing the timeframe for in-district parents, the announcement identified names and affiliations of the members of the District 28 working group, the body that will ultimately write recommendations. Critics of the integration effort had previously expressed concerns that the identities of the people in charge of the process were being concealed.
Along with the publication of the names of the working group members, the DOE also said that it would be looking for more members to join the working group.
At Mayor de Blasio’s Forest Hills town hall on Feb. 19, Community Education Council 28 President Vijah Ramjattan entreated him to scrap the plan completely and start over because he was unhappy with the makeup of the working group.
“I’m seeing a group of 20 people who are being selected by a different entity to represent the district children and parents of District 28,” Ramjattan said. “Let’s vote as a community for who we want to represent us.”
De Blasio suggested a compromise that the community, including the CEC, would have more say in choosing the additional members to the working group.
When another constituent at the town hall pointed out that thought Jewish residents were underrepresented on the working groups, de Blasio again suggested that he would put her in touch with the DOE to get her feedback in assigning new members of the group.
“We are not here to represent specific groups, and our aim is to gather voices of everyone in the D28 community,” reads the letter introducing the members of the working group.
Visit d28diversityplan.com/ to find updates and more information about the plan.