Bronx School Where Student Was Fatally Stabbed Is Among Those Closing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New York City Department of Education on Monday announced the closing of more than a dozen city public schools.

As CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported, one student advocacy group blames the de Blasio administration for the failing schools.

Shortly after Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, he pledged to save the city’s struggling schools with his Renewal School Program. But on Monday, the DOE announced proposals to close 14 public school – including nine that are part of the renewal program and were given targeted resources to improve.

“We’re not giving up,” said New York City schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “We are just tweaking a little bit about where the support is needed.”

De Blasio’s program is estimated to cost the city more than $580 million by the end of this academic year.

The student advocacy group StudentsFirstNY said: “Mayor de Blasio’s expensive school turnaround model has failed miserably.”

The group suggests the mayor will follow the lead of the Bloomberg administration by creating new small schools and charters.

The DOE said it will be merging five of its struggling renewal schools, and will close five schools in the program – including the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation in the Bronx where 15-year-old Matthew McCree was stabbed to a death in September.

Fariña said a number of factors were considered for closing the school, including enrollment.

“Students have asked to leave and the enrollment for next year was predicted as first choice no more than five students were applying,” Fariña said, adding that the students and the staff need a fresh start following the fatal stabbing. “In terms of trauma it’s going to be more and more difficult and by anticipation for this is that by closing it and allowing the kids to go elsewhere that we’ll actually be offering them and the staff a better opportunity.”

But McCree’s mother, Louna Dennis, said closing the school does not solve the problems that led to her son’s death.

“Closing the school is not attacking the issue,” she said. “The issue is the administration that they have.”

While the DOE is proposing to close schools like Urban Assembly School of Wildlife Conservation, the city is still keeping several renewal schools open despite showing little or no progress.

At P.S. 165 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, just 9 percent of students are proficient at mathematics, and enrollment dropped 51 percent. At M.S. 301 in the Bronx, fewer than 10 percent of students passed reading or math exams for each of the last four years.

But both of those schools are staying open.

Kyesha Jackson, president of P.S. 67 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, said the renewal program works for her students. Their success earned the school a new designation as a Rise school.

“All of the initiatives that have been implemented have had a very good impact on our scholars,” Jackson said.

Fariña said the renewal program is being reviewed constantly. Whether it will survive is anyone’s guess.

Besides the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation, the other schools on the chopping block are:

• PS 050 Vito Marcantonio;

• Coalition School for Social Change;

• High School for Health Careers and Sciences;

• New Explorers High School;

• Urban Science Academy;

• PS 92 Bronx School;

• Brooklyn Collegiate: A College Board School;

• PS/MS 42 R. Vernam;

• MS 53 Brian Piccolo;

• KAPPA IV;

• Academy for Social Action;

• Felisa Rincon de Gautier Institute;

• Eubie Blake School.

Meanwhile, 21 Renewal schools that have seen strong and steady gains will be designated Rise schools. The remaining 46 Renewal schools will receive increased support and oversight for an additional year.

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