January 13, 2012
An informational session last night at the soon-to-be-shuttered Peninsula Preparatory Academy charter school turned into an emotional sounding board for frustrated parents.
“We find the decision wholly illogical, immoral, perhaps illegal and outright wrong,” said Josmar Trujillo, co-president of the school’s parent organization.
At the heart of their exasperation was the notion that the city was moving to close such a school in an area where few high quality options exist. Ninety-five percent of students who attend Peninsula Prep on the Rockaways are zoned for district schools that rank lower on city’s student performance index. The city plans to close one of those schools, P.S. 215, further limiting school options.
“What school would you choose if you had a choice and lived in the Rockaways?” Sharmeka Frazier asked Office of Charter Schools director Recy Dunn repeatedly in the video above.
Dunn said that the city would help a nearby charter school, Challenge Prep, revise its charter to accept 100 students displaced from Peninsula Prep. That school will go through third grade next year. But for Peninsula Prep’s remaining students, he had little to offer. Instead, he sat quietly as one parent after another confronted him about the planned closure, with testimonies that ranged from angry to confused to desperate.
It’s the first time that the city has moved to close a charter school that wasn’t failing and Dunn explained that charter schools are, by law, held to higher standards than district counter parts.
The answer did not satisfy many of the parents who believed that decision was a misguided attempt to set an example.
“This fight is not yet over,” said Joachin, who said a rally was tentatively planned for next week.