City regulations require that community education councils be involved when the Department of Education conducts public hearings aimed at closing schools.
So it was part protest and part strategy last Friday when members of CEC 28 decided to boycott proceedings at PS 140 in South Jamaica.
The DOE is proposing to phase out the school beginning with kindergarten next year and close it following the 2015-16 school year. It would be replaced in the same building by an entity called 28Q218, which in the meantime would be colocated with the doomed PS 140.
An educational impact statement prepared by the city states that PS 140 has been chosen “based on its poor performance and the DOE’s assessment that the school lacks the capacity to improve quickly to support student needs.”
Current students could stay at the school until they complete fifth grade.
So while DOE representatives conducted their hearing on Friday, CEC 28 members remained outside of the school.
“In a nutshell, as a party that is required to sit at the table with the Department of Eduction for public hearings, we decided not to partake in the discussion,” CEC 28 President Sandra Williams said in an email to the Queens Chronicle.
“We believe boycotting the public hearing sends a strong message,” she added. “Since we were not at the table, we also believe the process should be null and void.”
Williams said a parent was delegated to read into the hearing’s public record a resolution that CEC 28 has passed in opposition to the phaseout.
Williams believes they are the first group to attempt a flat-out boycott.
“We don’t know if state law 2590 gives the chancellor and his designee the power to proceed without us,” Williams wrote. “They have their way of getting things done. The majority of the time, those hearings are formalities, meaning the decision was already made.”