NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There was community outrage Tuesday over what some are calling a squeeze play by the Department of Education.
The city is planning to put a charter school inside a public school, and it could jeopardize a program for autistic students, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
As they joyfully cavorted on the playground, the students at P.S. 32 in Carroll Gardens were unaware of a controversy involving Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Department of Education that has brought only heartache to some of their parents.
“I would say to Bloomberg I think you’ve made a mistake here, a terrible mistake that will hurt a lot of people and impact all of these families,” parent Larissa Bailiff said.
Bailiff was talking about a plan to squeeze a charter school into the existing space at P.S. 32, which, she said, will mean a special program for autistic children her son attends there will be compromised.
“I think it’s abominable and I think it’s very shortsighted and I think it clearly speaks to decisions that are made higher up without any intention of getting in touch with the people it impacts,” parent Alex Nahas said.
The issue is space. Autistic kids need small classes. Parents said that cramming 300 charter school students into the school will take not only take space needed for the special needs kids but for everybody. The library, the cafeteria, the playground will all be shared.
“We would have 45 minutes per day for the whole school to use the play yard and that’s over 250 kids,” parent Gregory Goings said. “They might only be out there 10 minutes before they’re lined back up.”
While the Department of Education reasons it could add more students because of “available space,” an agency spokesman told Kramer that the charter school kids would be housed in P.S. 32 trailers, conceding it would be a “tight squeeze” to fit 300 kids into space that currently holds 130.
Teachers at the school told Kramer it would be terrible to bring more students into the building. They said the Department of Education should find a different option, like finding a different building for the charter school.
Parents have scheduled an emergency PTA meeting on Tuesday night to discuss how to fight the proposal.
The Department of Education issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying it is “re-assessing” its options for the charter school.
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