Last night the NYC Department of Education told Khalil Gibran International Academy’s PTA that their school was being relocated for the September 2008 school year. After all the planning, the DOE has chosen a school that didn’t have the required space.
Concerned NYC parents are once again confronted with the controversial KGIA affecting their children and school environment. Tonight Garth Harries, Officer of Portfolio Development, came to P.S. 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to face an angry gathering of parents. Their school has been chosen as KGIA’s new location.
Precedents of DOE stonewalling and lack of transparency continue.
On February 4th,
the PTA requested a copy of KGIA’s curriculum.
Nothing has been forwarded.
A mother said she visited KGIA today. A secretary came out and she “was poorly received”. She was not allowed in. She asked Harries, “The school is so secretive, how can you ask us to have a school here if we don’t know what’s going on?”
Another parent wanted to know, “How can we trust you when you lied to us about the high school (The School for Law and Justice) being here for one year?” Originally the high school was suppose to move after one year. As is common DOE practice, parents are told this when in reality many years go by before a school is relocated. The high school is leaving P.S. 287 after a four year stay. Parents have been looking forward to next year when they would finally get their school back and reinstate programs lost when the high school moved in. A parent noted that a high school is leaving the building and a middle and high school are entering.
KGIA is moving in because the DOE says the building is under utilized. However, parents maintain that the school lost enrollment when parents pulled their children out because older children were in the building. Fears are high that enrollment will decrease should KGIA and its negative publicity move into their elementary school.
Once again they are facing the problem of having teenagers mingle with pre-k, kindergarten, and elementary age school children. One parent said, “It’s not safe to be with high school kids. They’re out of control. We can’t bring kids into the playground.” A PTA President of another school described the dangerous practice of the DOE bringing middle and high school students into elementary schools. “Older kids beat up younger kids.” Garth Harries’ answer was that this practice is happening all around the city.
Harries was corrected by a parent when he told the gathering that the decision wasn’t final. At a school leadership meeting three weeks ago DOE representative, Gabrielle Ferghetti, clearly stated to all that the move is a done deal. The PTA President explained, “She came to let us know. She didn’t answer my questions. It was a courtesy call.” Harries apologized, responding, “That young lady works for me. That’s not what she told me she said.” The question with the DOE always remains, “Who is telling the truth?”
After Harries repeatedly sang the praises of KGIA and justified its agenda several times, a mother expressed the frustration of many when she said, “Are you here to help all schools or are you here to focus on a particular race, religion, and community? You’re focused on the success of KGIA. You are not concerned with the success of our school.”
A very savvy and knowledgeable group of parents gathered tonight to let the NYCDOE know that their community school and children would no longer be taken advantage of. A hard-working community, many of whom are single-mothers, will not let the fact that the DOE thinks they are too busy and exhausted with earning a living to care about what’s happening with their children. This group of parents will do whatever it takes. As one parent said, “Tell Chancellor Klein, don’t send messages through you. He’s not doing us a favor [by sending you]. Go back and tell the Chancellor the answer is no, no, no. We want him here and we want Mayor Bloomberg here. Tell the Chancellor you don’t mix Church and State.” Another parent added, “We as parents have the right to have what we want for our children. They can only take what we allow them to take.”