City Moves Forward With Controversial Nelson Mandela School in Bed-Stuy

By Paul DeBenedetto on February 28, 2014 8:13am 

 Boys and Girls High School Principal Bernard Gassaway called the naming of a school inside Boys and Girls after Nelson Mandela "opportunistic."
Boys and Girls High School Principal Bernard Gassaway called the naming of a school inside Boys and Girls after Nelson Mandela "opportunistic."
View Full Caption
Chris Jackson/Getty Images and DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A controversial new school co-location in Bed-Stuy's Boys and Girls High School will open in 2014 despite opposition from the high school's principal, the city announced Thursday.

The Nelson Mandela School for Social Justice will be the third to be housed inside of Boys and Girls, an underutilized school that has seen its progress report grades plummet in recent years. 

The city's Department of Education under former Mayor Michael Bloombergwhich began planning the co-location in April 2013, insisted that the new school would simply fill empty seats.

But Boys and Girls principal Bernard Gassaway has said he was never consulted on the new school, or its "ill-advised" name. 

Gassaway characterized the Nelson Mandela naming, chosen two weeks after the South African leader's death in December, as a cynical move to mount support for the co-location.

The principal also told DNAinfo New York in October that he would consider retiring if the co-location was approved.

Gassaway did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Keeping the co-location was part of a broader decision by the DOE, which was considering 45 proposals previously approved by the Bloomberg administration.

Of the 45 proposals, just seven were withdrawn by the DOE on Thursday. Three of those were controversial Success Academy charter schools

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Thursday said the DOE reviewed the proposals under "inflexible deadlines," and paid close attention to how each co-location would affect families.

"We were deliberate in our decisions and, under the circumstances we inherited, believe this is the best approach," read a statement from Fariña.

"If there is one thing school communities should know, it’s this: we’re going to do things differently. Today, we are turning the page on the approach of the past. We are going to listen and be responsive like never before, and that will be reflected in everything we do."

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement