Sunset Park High School rally and hearing postponed

May 13, 2011 Heather Chin
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The protest rally mayhave been postponed, but some parents and students from Sunset ParkHigh School (SPHS) still stood outside their school last Tuesday toprotest the Department of Education’s (DOE) plan to keep a charterschool in their building at least one more year.

The rally had beenscheduled for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, an hour before the DOE’spublic hearing on the proposed continued sharing of space by SPHSand Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, which has been there for twoyears. But on May 9, the DOE – which had originally scheduled afinal vote for May 18 – announced that the hearing had beenpostponed “for an unspecified reason..”

“[The kids] weredisappointed at not knowing the reasoning. I feel the same way,”said Community Board 7 District Manager Jeremy Laufer. “We have towait to hear from the DOE to see if they’re rescheduling theirhearing. The best case scenario is they say they’re moving ontosomething else, which would be wonderful, but we’re not expectingthat to take place. So we’re still telling people to write lettersand place phone calls [to the DOE and elected officials].”

Sunset Park HighSchool currently serves ninth and 10th grades, and willbe adding an 11th grade next year. Brooklyn Prospectcurrently serves sixth and seventh graders and will be adding aneighth grade next year. It was briefly scheduled to relocate toP.S. 32’s building in Boerum Hill, but parents and residents therepressured politicians to reverse the decision.

The city claimsthat the school has room for the school, but SPHS advocates rejectthat assertion. “Even using the DOE numbers on student enrollment,which we dispute, the school will be at 106 percent capacity,” saidLaufer.

The chances of theDOE voting against keeping Brooklyn Prospect inside SPHS are notgood, considering Chancellor Dennis Walcott’s stated support forthe practice of co-locating charter schools in public schoolbuildings. However, there have been some victories when parents settheir mind to it and have political support, as seen with P.S. 32in March.

State SenatorVelmanette Montgomery, herself a former teacher, hopes to be one ofthose elected officials lending support.

At a meeting withWalcott shortly after his appointment last month, “The senator wasvery firm that charter schools do provide a valuable service, butit cannot be to the detriment of other public school children,”said Jim Vogel, a spokesperson for Montgomery’s office. “They saidthey would get back to us, then five minutes later, said they werecontinuing with their plans. This is a very big deal toher.”

For updates on therescheduled public hearing and SPHS rally, contact Community Board7 at 718-854-0003.

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