Albany Wrapping Up, House of Sages, Girls Prep

  • Silver and Cuomo say they are close to a resolution with Skelos on property tax caps, rent control and a state university tuition hike–but so far, not gay marriage. (NYT, WSJ/AP, Albany Times-Union video)
  • Early 20th-century stories from the Jewish mediation court at the House of Sages on East Broadway are dramatized in a new play called “South of Delancey.” (Jewish Journal)
  • Five East Village developments to watch this summer. (EVGrieve)

Girls Prep Expansion Hearing Set for Thursday

A public hearing will be held Thursday on a proposal to allow the Girls Prep Charter School to expand in a building it shares with two other schools on East Houston Street.

The issue has dragged on for more than two years, as Lower East Side parents clashed over limited classroom space and education advocates took the city to court. But these problems seem to have been resolved.

Girls Prep wants to add grades over the next few years at 442 East Houston, a 100 year old building that also houses a traditional elementary school and P.S. 94, a special needs school. Last week, the Department of Education approved a separate plan to move the Girls Prep Middle School into a building on East 12th Street.

The meeting begins at 6pm, at P.S. 188. If you wish to speak, sign-up forms will be available starting at 5:30pm.

Ross Global Takes on Girls Prep in Latest Charter School Space Battle

Earlier this morning, we linked to a story in the New York Times recounting the rising tensions between Ross Global Academy (which is being closed due to poor performance) and the Girls Prep Middle School (which is in search of a new home).

The article, which explores the tussle between two Lower East Side charter schools, both backed by the “moneyed elite,” is a good read. But we don’t want to bury the lead.

The Times reports: “An internal Department of Education planning document indicates that the intermediate grades of Girls Prep, a single-sex school whose lower grades are located in a public school on East Houston Street, would indeed assume Ross Global Academy’s space by September.”

Tonight: Kindergarten Info Fair, Girls Prep’s Fate Discussed

A couple of important events for Lower East Side parents tonight. First, at 530pm there’s a Kindergarten and Pre-Kindegarten information fair at P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School.  This week, the Department of Education opened enrollment for the 2011-2012 academic year (the deadline to apply is March 4th). District 1, encompassing much of the LES, allows parents to enroll their kids in any school (so long as there’s space available).  This evening, representatives from the district’s schools will be on hand to help guide parents through the process.

Then at 630pm, District 1’s Community Education Council meets.  The big agenda item: the future of the Girls Prep Middle School. After an epic battle last year, the charter school found a temporary home near Cooper Square. There’s a possibility Girls Prep will be able to take over classrooms currently being occupied by Ross Global Academy, 420 East 12th Street. Recently, the DOE announced it was closing Ross, also a charter school, due to poor performance and other problems. There’s a hitch, however. Ross is pursuing legal action to stay open and is strenuously fighting the Girls Prep move.

P.S. 20 is located at 166 Essex Street. Again the Info Fair is at 5:30pm. The CEC meeting begins at 630. Both events are being held inside the school.

Girls Prep “Report Card” Score Drops

Parents spoke out about Girls Prep expansion plan at two public hearings last year.

For more than a year, we followed the saga surrounding Girls Prep, the charter school that fought to expand its middle school on the Lower East Side. Gotham Schools notes it’s one of two schools that performed particularly badly in the latest progress reports released by the NYC Department of Education:

Girls Prep Leases Private Space Near Cooper Square

It looks like the Girls Prep Charter School has found space for its middle school. Earlier this month, the Department of Education backed away from a plan to allow the school to expand in a building on East Houston Street. DOE Chancellor Joel Klein is out tonight with the following statement:

“I am delighted that the young women from Girls Prep will be attending the school their families chose. I want to thank the school’s Board for coming up with a creative solution under enormous time pressure, and
State Senator Squadron, Assemblymember Kavanagh and Councilmembers Mendez and Chin for assisting in the process. Our number one goal has been making sure all of our students have the space and resources they need, and while we’ve always had a plan that allowed Girls Prep to serve their students on-site without displacing one single child with special needs, placing Girls Prep Middle School in private space this year accomplishes this same goal. We remain committed to finding a permanent home for Girls Prep students moving forward.”

We’re told the school has leased private space at 51 Astor Place, overlooking Cooper Square.  For more than a year, parents from P.S. 188 and P.S. 94 (co-tenants of the Houston Street building) fought the Girls prep expansion plan. The threat of a lawsuit forced the DOE and Girls Prep to find an alternative.

Education Department Confirms Girls Prep Reversal

More on the Girls Prep situation/saga. The New York Times now has confirmation from the Department of Education that the LES charter school is delaying the first day of school, originally scheduled for this coming Monday.  As we reported earlier today, Chancellor Joel Klein has decided against using his “emergency powers” to get around a state ruling blocking the DOE’s expansion plan. Excerpts from Jennifer Medina’s story, posted on the Times’ web site a short time ago:

…a spokeswoman for Mr. Klein said Friday that the city was reversing course and would search for another space for the charter school, pushing back the first day of school for the 125 Girls Prep students by as much as a month. The chancellor’s decision to use emergency powers provoked outrage from many parents and elected officials, including State Senator Daniel Squadron, who has been a reliable supporter of Mr. Klein’s…

Breaking: Girls Prep Deal Delays Monday Classes

It appears there’s a deal in the works to resolve the long-running dispute surrounding the expansion of the Girls Prep Charter School on East Houston Street.  As we’ve been reporting, the Department Education had intended to go ahead with a controversial plan to allow the school to take over more space in its current location. This — in spite of a ruling from the state education commissioner that found the DOE failed to consider the impact on P.S. 94, one of two schools sharing space with Girls Prep.  Commissioner David Steiner invalidated the plan and ordered the DOE to conduct a new “Educational Impact” assessment.

But now, the DOE seems to have decided to delay the start of classes — which were supposed to begin Monday — and to possibly find an alternate location for 100 students enrolled in the Girls Prep Charter School this fall.  Lisa Donlan, president of District 1’s Community Education Council, told us it’s a one-week delay.

We have emails/calls into the Department of Education, the Borough President’s office, Girls Prep and Advocates for Children (the organization that filed the state complaint). We’ll let you know when we have more details.

Elected Officials Call on DOE to “Fix” Girls Prep Situation

We just returned from 1 Centre Street, where elected officials and education advocates rallied against the Education Department’s decision to proceed with its expansion of the Girls Prep Charter School. Today’s event was organized by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who denounced the DOE’s “tactic to bulldoze parent input.”

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.

Girls Prep Ruling: the DOE Responds

We’ve just heard from the Department of Education about the Girls Prep situation. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver released a statement earlier today saying the DOE’s decision to implement an expansion plan for the charter school — in spite of a state order blocking it — amounts to a “breathtaking end run around both the law’s requirements and the right(s) of parents…”

Silver Calls Klein’s Girls Prep Decision “Blatant Abuse” of Emergency Powers

Joel Klein

As we reported last night (via Gotham Schools), the Department of Education has decided to go ahead with the Girls Prep expansion plan in spite of a ruling by the state education commissioner blocking the proposal.  The commissioner, David Steiner, said the DOE failed to consult with parents from P.S. 94, one of two schools sharing space with Girls Prep in a building on East Houston Street.

DOE Chancellor Joel Klein signaled his intention to implement the original plan, invoking a section of state law that permits the DOE to act unilaterally when it is, “immediately necessary for the preservation of student health, safety or general welfare.”

State Blocks Girls Prep Expansion

Protest on the steps of City Hall in March.

The state education commissioner is blocking a decision by New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) to allow the Girls Prep Charter School to expand its middle school in a shared building on East Houston Street.  Several Lower East Side parents and an organization called Advocates for Children filed a complaint against the DOE in the spring. This week, New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner issued his decision.