Harlem Renaissance Among Schools Removed from Closure List

By Jill Colvin on April 2, 2012 7:38pm 

Dawn Landes, a music studio engineer, teaches her craft to Harlem Renaissance High School students.
Dawn Landes, a music studio engineer, teaches her craft to Harlem Renaissance High School students.
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DNAinfo/Jon Schuppe

MANHATTAN — Seven city schools, including Harlem Renaissance High School, have been spared the axe after showing marked improvement in recent years, the Department of Education announced Monday.

The schools were among 33 that were set to shutter and re-open this fall under a special “turnaround” model, which allows the department to fire up to half of a school’s teachers, without following union rules.

“When we began this process, we proposed closing and replacing these seven schools where we had seen some improvement, but where the pace of change was not quick enough for our students,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement.

“After careful consideration, including school visits from my leadership team, we have come to believe that these schools have strong enough foundations to improve — and today, I have decided that we will not move forward with proposals to close and replace these seven."

The schools avoiding closure include the Harlem Renaissance High School on East 128th Street as well as Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill School of American Studies, IS 136 Charles O. Dewey, Franklin D Roosevelt High School, W. H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School, the Brooklyn School for Global Studies and the William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School.

The DOE had been under fire for continuing to push to shutter schools that had received "As" and "Bs" on their most recent progress reports.

Harlem Renaissance, for instance, received a “B” last year, based primarily on student improvements on state tests.

The school's principal, Nadav Zeimer, recenty placed an emphasis on high-tech education in order to help turn the struggling school around.

Teachers Union President Michael Mulgrew praised the decision to halt the seven closures, but urged the DOE to extend the show of faith to the remaining schools.

“The idea that A and B schools deserved to be closed made a mockery of the DOE’s system, as the agency has apparently now realized," he said in a statement.

The High School of Graphic Communication Arts is among the schools still on the 'turnaround' list.
The High School of Graphic Communication Arts is among the schools still on the 'turnaround' list.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

“There are 26 other schools that have improvement strategies in place, including many that don’t meet the DOE’s official closing criteria. The focus should now be on helping make those plans a reality, rather than mindlessly closing schools that can and should be fixed," he said.

A spokesman said the DOE plans to continue moving forward with plans to close the remaining 26 schools, including Harlem’s Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School and Hell’s Kitchen’s High School of Graphic Communication Arts.

Principals at those schools have been instructed to begin recruiting teachers they want to hire to replace those that will be dismissed, the DOE spokesman said.

Public hearings for the remaining Manhattan closures are scheduled for Tues., April 3. A final vote by the Panel for Education Policy is scheduled for April 26.

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