HARLEM — City Comptroller John Liu said the Department of Education's plan to close the middle school at Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts is part of "wrongheaded" policy that ends up punishing students.
Liu, who addressed middle school students Friday about the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr., said he was opposed to the policy of closing schools deemed to be failing only to open new schools in their place.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his State of the City address Thursday, announced plans to open 100 new schools across the city.
"This is a big issue not only at Wadleigh, but a number of schools around the city," Liu said. "School closings, school openings, school shuffling doesn't add to the educational environment that we need to foster in our schools. It is a policy that is taking us down the wrong path."
Wadleigh, located on West 114th Street, was on the Department of Education's list of failing schools. In December, the DOE announced that it would remove middle school grades from nine city schools, including Wadleigh.
The planned Wadleigh closure has also drawn the ire of local residents, because Harlem Success Academy Middle School is expected to move two grades into the building Wadleigh now shares with two other schools.
Wadleigh librarian Paul McIntosh, who has secured West, Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as part of a speakers program at the school, said students, faculty and parents know they are facing a difficult to nearly impossible fight to keep their middle school open.
"It's important, irrespective of what the DOE decides, that the powers that be know we consider them to be taking an action that egregiously harms the children of this community," McIntosh said after the event.
Liu said that the "constant closure and reopening of schools, shuffling different schools around, announcement of new schools while providing no new buildings," does not provide the "value" the mayor says it does.
"This is an area of the Department of Education that I've long thought and continue to believe needs to be changed, needs to be improved," Liu said.