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Queens Chronicle

Miller wants answers from DOE on IS 59

City unresponsive to info requests from councilman and the Chronicle

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Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Thu Jun 26, 2014.

Councilman Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) said Wednesday that he still had not heard a satisfactory reply from the Department of Education regarding the scheduling and public notice of a June 6 meeting on the co-location of a charter school this fall in PS 59 in Springfield Gardens.

“Absolutely not,” Miller said in a phone conversation. He did say that there appears to have been some feelers from the DOE, but nothing definite.

On June 6, the DOE scheduled the meeting for the purpose of explaining to the public how the new Success Academy Charter school will coexist with IS 59 and PS 176, when Success opens its doors to kindergarteners and first-graders in September.

The meeting was not a public hearing.

But DOE officials, as yet unnamed, scheduled the meeting for a Friday evening at 6 p.m. Miller has provided the Chronicle with a time-stamped email showing that his office was informed by the DOE at 4:41 p.m. on June 4, giving him just over 48 hours notice.

IS 59 was closed on June 5 for Brooklyn Queens Day, leaving a number of parents saying there was no way they could have gotten adequate advance notice of the meeting.

About 50 irate parents, teachers and community leaders showed up on June 6, with many who spoke questioning whether the DOE intentionally timed the meeting and the public notice in a way to keep public turnout at a minimum.

Asked immediately after the June 6 meeting, District 29 Superintendent Lenon Murray refused to say when he was notified of the meeting schedule.

DOE representatives that night referred all questions to DOE spokesman Harry Hartfield. A phone message left for Hartfield on June 9 was not returned, nor were emails sent to him on June 9 and 13.

The emails requested:

• The name of the person who authorized scheduling the meeting for 6 p.m. on June 6;

• The name of the person responsible for Miller’s office receiving approximately 49 hours advance notice;

• When Murray and IS 59 Principal Carleton Gordon were notified of the time, date and place of the meeting, who notified them and the method by which they were notified, such as a phone call or email; and

• A response from Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a to allegations that the timing and delays were deliberate.

Fari–a did not address the matter in a talk at Borough Hall on June 10, and was immediately hustled out of the conference room past reporters with one of her staff members shouting “No questions!”

Farina is scheduled to appear at PS 15 at 121-15 Lucas Street in Springfield Gardens at 7 p.m. on Thursday night.

Miller and Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who is the Education Committee chairman, “have discussed” the possibility of Dromm calling a hearing on the matter.

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