November 28, 2011
Department of Education officials have promised to resolve scheduling problems this week at Queens Metropolitan High School — and to keep a closer eye on the school in the future.
Officials from the DOE and Children’s First Network have visited the school multiple times in the past week, observing classes and meeting with parents and administrators. They will also sit in on future Parent-Teacher Association meetings, according to a list of promises that officials outlined in a meeting with PTA members at Queens Metropolitan High School last week.
Since early in the school year, parents at the year-old school have complained of missing textbooks, incompetent substitute teachers, and multiple schedule changes that forced students to miss gym class, electives, and some core subjects.
After he discussed the problems by phone with one parent, the city’s Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky, told the audience at November’s regular Panel for Education Policy meeting that the DOE would act quickly and aggressively to fix the problems.
He was not among the officials who met with parents last week at an open meeting in the school’s auditorium. The officials said they had worked late into the evenings and through the previous weekend to address the issues and create new schedules, which took effect today.
According to John Sadowski, the parent who originally contacted Polakow-Suransky and has a son in tenth grade at the school, the officials a detailed a shortlist of promises for improving the school:
- As of today, students will have new schedules which include time for gym instruction and more opportunities to take a foreign language, but fewer electives.
- A DOE representative will attend all future PTA meetings.
- A substitute teacher with a license to teach chemistry from the city’s Absent Teacher Reserve pool will teach the 10th-grade class until the end of November. The school will hire a permanent replacement by December 1st.
- The school will order more chemistry textbooks to make up for the shortfall—administrators said they anticipated enrolling fewer students and did not order enough books last year.
- The DOE will schedule a follow-up meeting with parents at the school to check the progress of these changes in the next three weeks.
Sadowski said several of the two dozen parents and three students who attended the meeting voiced concerns about the administrative problems. Some also criticized the leadership decisions their principal, Marci Levy-Maguire, made early in the year as issues began snowballing, but said they were willing to give her “another chance,” he said.
“Most people are optimistic,” Sadowski told me. “We feel like giving it a chance to see what happens.”