Squadron, Chin, Mendez Sharply Criticize DOE Handling of Girls Prep Situation

We’ve already heard from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer on the DOE’s handling of the Girls Prep situation. They strongly criticized Chancellor Joel Klein’s decision to allow the LES charter school to expand, in spite of a ruling from the state education commissioner blocking the plan.  Now State Senator Daniel Squadron, as well as Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez are weighing in. First Squadron’s statement:

“I urge the Department of Education to heed Commissioner Steiner’s decision.  The new NYC school governance law is clear.  The ‘emergency exemption’ is not meant to be a loophole to drive a mack truck through.  There is a process in place for the state commissioner to determine whether parents have been meaningfully consulted, and the Department must adhere to it.”

Chin and Mendez have sent a letter to Chancellor Klein. You can see the full text of that letter after the jump.

August 5, 2010

Dear Chancellor Klein,

We are extremely distressed that the Department of Education has announced that it intends to move forward with plans to expand the Girls Preparatory Charter School from K-4 to K-8 within the P.S. 188M building located at 442 East Houston Street.

We strongly protest the decision to declare an emergency thereby circumventing the August 2, 2010 decision by State Education Commissioner David Steiner requiring an Educational Impact Statement (EIS) prior to an expansion by the charter school. This ruling stated that DOE must follow state law and cannot move or change space utilization for any school – including those that serve children with disabilities – without full disclosure to affected communities and opportunity for public comment.

We firmly believe that there cannot and should not be any further expansion of Girls Prep at the expense of the other schools in the building, and certainly not until all the legal requirements for disclosure have been met.  P.S. 94, the school that is threatened the most, is a special needs public school that deserves more resources, not less.  During this past school year, Councilwoman Mendez met with Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott and Department of Education staff to outline current services that must be maintained for P.S. 94 students.  To date, she has not received any information from D.O.E. in response to her requests.

We see no justification for a declaration of emergency that would allow for the hasty displacement of these vulnerable children and demand that you immediately cease any and all actions taken toward the Girls Prep expansion into space currently occupied by the other schools.

Sincerely,

Margaret Chin                                                 Rosie Mendez

District 1                                                         District 2

cc:   Deputy Mayor Walcott