Parents Of Autistic Students Miffed Over Plan For NYC Charter School

Dept. Of Education Considering Stuffing School Within P.S. 32

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.

RELATED: Teachers Union Furious As NYC Releases List Of Layoffs | Bus Matron Arrested, Accused Of Hitting Autistic Student | Parents Angry Over Cuts To NYC Special Ed Programs

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.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

More from Marcia Kramer
  • Laurel Hortsch

    The NEST program is beacon for families and friends of autistic children throughout the whole country. The Department of Education should be honoring the educators at PS32 not compromising the program and not compromising it.

    Autistic kids can’t just shake off disruptive changes and chaotic conditions. They see these things as an assault and respond accordingly.

  • Eddie

    My daughter attends the charter school and I agree with the parents at PS 32. They should look into Catholic Schools that closed for temporary housing until the new school is built.

  • Brooklyn Teacher

    Here is a link from Advocates for Children suggesting steps the parents can take to better understand and combat forced school co-locations:

    I do not work for this group, but have seen my school suffer from a co-location and know the negative effects quite well.

  • fighting mad mom

    PS32 educates an underserved population where nearly 80% of its population receives free or reduced lunches and 40% are special needs. As a parent who has a child attending this school – its outrageous that the DOE would even think to put forward such a proposal. These are kids that need ESL, academic intervention and social development skills. Service that are currently provided but would be serverely impacted by a plan to add another school. The elementary age kids already have a limited amount of time to eat lunch and run in the yard before another group (New Horizons MS) that shares the facility must take their turn. It’s always rushed and chaotic, and now the DOE wants to add a third school and 300 student to the mix? it just wont work. If I were a parent to a child attending the charter school I would be outraged at the idea of trying to squeeze into PS32. Its just not a suiteable location for that many more students.
    At the PTA meeting tonight which filled the auditorium, the sentiment among parents was strongly against this propsal. Petitions were circulaled and plans are being made to mobilize and make this a very public, very vocal fight.

  • Barbs


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