Only a few months after a court ruling gave a last-minute reprieve to seven Queens high schools, the city Department of Education is eyeing three schools — including one of those seven — in a new round of academic performance probing that could lead to closure of the schools.
Flushing High School and two schools located at Campus Magnet in Cambria Heights — Law, Government and Community Service High School; Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School — have been targeted by the DOE’s early engagement program. As part of the program, DOE officials have been meeting with parents, staff and students to discuss academic performance after the three schools earned D grades on the DOE’s annual report cards released last month. Department officials get updates from members of the school community and report that information to the superintendent.
The superintendent of the high schools then puts together a report with the information received during those meetings and brings it back to DOE headquarters. That information will play a role in whether or not the department will seek to close the schools next year.
Two dozen high schools citywide made the list.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens’ representative on the Panel for Educational Policy, said the early engagement process does not necessarily mean the schools will be put on a closure list, but that they are being looked at for phase out.
“The early engagement process is a step in the right direction, but our struggling schools need additional support and engagement more than a few months before one is considered for phaseout or closure,” Fedkowskyj said.
Three grammar and middle schools — PS 140 in South Jamaica, IS 59 in Springfield Gardens and PS 156 in Laurelton — are also on the early engagement list.
Fedkowskyj noted that it was unlikely any other borough school would make a potential closure list and that it was possible no schools from Queens will actually close in the end.
Last year eight schools were targeted. One, Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood, was removed from the list at the last minute. Flushing High School was one of the seven that were closed, but a judge quashed the closure plan after teacher and administrative unions sued the DOE on the plan.
Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship High School had been eyed for closure a few years ago. It is one of four schools inside the Campus Magnet complex — formerly home to Andrew Jackson High School, which closed in 1994.
Of the eight schools that made the closure list in the borough last year, two — Grover Cleveland and Newtown High School in Elmhurst — received B scores on this year’s report cards. John Adams, Long Island City, Richmond Hill and William Cullen Bryant all scored a C. Flushing and August Martin in South Jamaica scored Ds, but August Martin did not make this year’s early engagement list.
The DOE will decide which schools, if any, it wishes to close in the next few months. Those closures would have to be approved by the PEP in the spring.