It’s a scenario that has happened throughout the city every year of late: The Department of Education proposes school closures and the students, parents, alumni and elected officials fight to block them.
Long Island City High School is no exception.
On Oct. 23, at 6 p.m., the auditorium at LIC High School was packed with people hoping to reverse the proposed co-location of the overcrowded school.
“There were hundreds of people there,” said LIC High School alumnus and state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria). “These kids have been getting screwed by the city for some years now and it seems as though the DOE has a vendetta against the school for some reason or another.”
According to Gianaris, LIC High School’s capacity is at 117 percent, making the idea of placing a second school within the building unwise.
“Long Island City High School is overcrowded,” Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “There is something to be said for smaller schools but we do have examples of larger schools that, when given the resources, do well. But they do this every time — they starve the school of its resources and then say the school is failing and try to close it.”
Though the high school is not located within Dromm’s district, school closures and co-locations hold a special place in his heart as he was a teacher for many years and can’t stand seeing schools throughout the borough being closed down.
The Panel for Educational Policy was expected to vote on the proposal on Oct. 30 and while this is the third attempt for the DOE to close LIC High School, Dromm and Gianaris are hoping the proposal will not go through — or if it does, that it will be reversed.
“This DOE is going to be under new administration when the new mayor takes office and both candidates are going to approach education differently than our current mayor,” Gianaris said. “They are putting people through grief for something that may not happen.”
Dromm agreed and added that the DOE hasn’t been playing by the rule book either.
According to Dromm, the Educational Impact Survey given out to LIC High School parents was not originally translated into Spanish, a factor that greatly affects the school as 60 percent of the students are Latinos.
“The release of the English version three weeks before the Spanish version shows such a blatant disregard for the impacted families,” Dromm said in a letter to the panel. “Unfortunately, the DOE’s failure to provide sufficient notice betrays a negative attitude toward certain parents that is typical. All our parents deserve sufficient time to review a plan that will have such a large impact on their children’s future.”
Dromm said that not handing out the Spanish translation at the same time as the English version was in violation of the school chancellor’s regulations.
“This is the tale of two cities where there is one set of rules for those who happen to be English speaking and another set for those who cannot speak English,” he said. “They should have postponed the meeting and the PEP vote and it’s given us cause to have the decision thrown out.”
As of press time, no decision had been made by the PEP.