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Forced out: Parents outraged by children uprooted to new Downtown Brooklyn school

March 17, 2020 Scott Enman
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Parents from the Brooklyn Prospect Windsor Terrace Middle School are up in arms over the administration’s plan to move their kids to an interim location in Downtown Brooklyn that they say is dangerous, insufficient for learning and outside their current school district.

Last spring, accepted families were told that their children would move in the fall of 2020 to a new, permanent and improved space in Gowanus. In case that building was not complete, parents were told their kids could remain at the Windsor Terrace Middle School in District 15.

But the Gowanus building will not be ready by this fall, and there are concerns from parents that it will also not be complete by the following school year since there is a stop work order on the excavation next to it.

When the Gowanus school appeared not to be on track for completion, the administration said they were working on a Plan B for a local “permanent school site” that would “minimize negative impact” for families and staff, according to Rachael Kilian, whose child attends the school.

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In February, parents were told that their kids would instead be moving to 40 Flatbush Ave Ext. in District 13 for one year.

The temporary school in Downtown Brooklyn for kids at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School has a public park across the street for recess. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

“We believe that we deserved to know all the facts before we enrolled our children in September, so that we as parents could make the best decisions for our kids and our families,” Kilian said. “We turned down other middle school offers based on this information.

“We also believe that we should have been consulted and involved in a decision as major as moving our children outside of District 15.”

Now, hundreds of parents have signed a petition against the move and are urging the administration to allow their kids to remain at their current location until the promised school in Gowanus is finished.

A construction site for a storage complex next to the new planned Brooklyn Prospect Charter School location at 160 17th St. displays a Stop Work Order. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

In a letter to parents announcing the news of the Downtown Brooklyn location, Prospect School’s CEO and Deputy CEO Dan Rubenstein and Penny Marzulli said they were “grateful to have found such a strong and well-equipped space for WTMS, even if only for the short-term.”

But parents, who have personally toured the interim location, do not agree with that assessment of the space.

Students will be confined mostly to one floor of a mixed-use building that lacks a cafeteria and auditorium, and has a science center without plumbing. There is also incessant noise from a neighboring construction site and no gym, meaning kids will have to leave the building to play in a public park.

A construction site for a storage complex next to the new planned Brooklyn Prospect Charter School at 160 17th St. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

The commute is also dangerous, parents say. Children will be forced to either get off at Jay Street-MetroTech, which is in the second most dangerous train station, according to the NYPD, or at York Street, which only has one exit.

Kids traveling from the subway will need to then cross Tillary and Jay streets, which is the most dangerous intersection in Brooklyn. Tillary has eight lanes, Jay has four and the juncture is a main thoroughfare for trucks traveling to the Manhattan Bridge.

“To have our children, who for the first time in their lives aren’t going to school near home, to have to change from a very easy, safe commute to one where they’re thrown into the maelstrom of Tillary and Jay is just not something we would have agreed to do when we’re sending our daughter on her own,” said parent Jason Mogel.

The Windsor Terrace location of Brooklyn Prospect Charter School at 3002 Fort Hamilton Parkway. Photo: Paul Frangipane/Brooklyn Eagle

The building itself is also under construction, has an open Class 1 violation on its facade and the entrance is on the Manhattan Bridge exit ramp.

The children will also be mixing with tenants of the building including adult services organizations, and roughly 325 kids will be using just two elevators.

Parents told the Brooklyn Eagle that their children’s relationships will likely suffer as a result of not being able to see one another in their home neighborhoods and that they may not be able to make it to extracurricular activities on time due to the extended commute.

A spokesperson from Prospect Schools said they would not be able to provide comment due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Follow reporter Scott Enman on Twitter.

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