Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s first appearance in Queens since a bitter showdown with parents in Bayside ended with him walking out is likely to be moved to a bigger location.
School officials are looking into changing the site of the March 2 town hall to either Christ the King High School in Middle Village or Queens Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills because their auditoriums can hold as many as 1,000 people, officials said. It was originally slated for IS 5 in Elmhurst
“Citing safety issues, the chancellor’s people told us IS 5 is too small,” said Phil Wong, chairman of the District 24 Community Education Council, the parents’ advisory committee that is sponsoring the town hall.
Representatives of the chancellor signed off on the auditorium at IS 5 — located just off Queens Boulevard on Jacobus Street — just two weeks ago, Wong said. With standees, the room accommodates about 525 people.
At the CEC’s monthly meeting Wednesday night at IS 61 in Corona, “suddenly, they told us 1,000 people are coming,” he said.
“They had a difficult time last time, at District 26,” and did not want a repeat, said Wong.
Carranza’s last town hall in Queens ended in shouts and recriminations after parents tried to question the chancellor about two violent incidents at a middle school in Bayside. Carranza walked out before the town hall ended — and later apologized for any “disrespect” his early departure evinced.
For the upcoming forum, officials first suggested moving it to Newtown High School, about a half mile away.
But parents on the CEC said the landmark high school had neither parking nor easy access to public transportation.
Instead, Christ the King — a parochial school that rents out its meeting areas to other schools — or Metropolitan High School were suggested as alternatives.
If neither is available, the committee voted to keep the town hall at IS 5. A final decision is due later this week.
Carranza had been scheduled to conduct a town hall in District 24 last December but canceled three days before the event. He had to attend a memorial service for a colleague, he said. But the cancellation also coincided with the announcement that Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), one of the chancellor’s toughest critics, would be getting an award from the CEC that night.
“I hope we will still have it,” Wong said of the rescheduled town hall. “With so many changes, there is still a lot of uncertainties.”