The clock is ticking.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Deputy Schools Chancellor Marc Sternberg told parents, District 30 and Panel on Educational Policy representatives and Astoria politicians at a meeting on Monday that the Department of Education would answer their concerns in a week about changes the department would like to make to the Gifted and Talented program at PS 122.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” said Deborah Alexander, who has a student in the G&T program.
This is the latest in a back-and-forth process.
Last year, District 30 parents asked for more middle-school G&T seats. The DOE responded with a plan requiring elementary students in G&T classes to retest into middle-school classes, instead of automatically matriculating. Parents were outraged.
The DOE then came back with a proposal adding a middle-school program to PS 126. Parents were momentarily pleased, but then the DOE proposed taking seats from the highly ranked Academy at PS 122, citing a chancellor’s regulation that says elementary school students should be able to stay in their school for middle school if space is available.
Parents were furious.
Those with students in the Academy and those in the general education program said they did not expect their children to stay at PS 122 for middle school unless they tested into the G&T program.
“We are a unique snowflake,”Alexander said. “We don’t fit into a regulation. It’s not a law change. Fix the words on a page instead of changing thousands of lives.”
“We are all hopeful that the overwhelming evidence presented to Chancellor Walcott by our school communities will reverse this awful decision and discard the proposal created by the DOE’s Division of Portfolio Planning,” said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the Queens representative on the PEP. “The proposal, if it were to move forward as designed, would dismantle the most successful district-wide G&T program in New York City and destabilize all three school communities involved.”
The clock is also ticking on a petition teachers and parents filed with New York State Education Commissioner John King on March 25. The DOE has until Monday to answer the complaint.