MANHATTAN — After listening to eight hours of angry protests by parents, teachers, local politicians and students that lasted beyond 3 a.m., the city voted Wednesday to close 19 schools, five in Manhattan.
The Academy of Collaborative Education, the Academy of Environmental Science, the Choir Academy of Harlem, KAPPA II and Norman Thomas High School, will all be shut following the vote by the Panel for Education Policy at a packed hearing in the auditorium of Brooklyn Tech High School.
All eight of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's appointees to the panel backed the closures, as did the Staten Island representative, the Daily News reported. The four panel members representing Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx voted against it.
More than 300 people signed up to speak at the forum, which began Tuesday night. Many of the speakers accused the panel and the Department of Education of abandoning schools and students.
"If I was a mechanic, you would give me the tools to fix your car, but as a teacher you don't give me the material I need to educate the student," said teacher Deborah Sherlock, according to NY1.
"And what's going to happen down the road? What kind of country is this going to be, if we can't educate our students?"
Officials argued it was the schools that were failing.
"These schools have been, unfortunately, failing our students for a number of years. And it's time for us to really grab these schools and phase them out and put new schools in their place," said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, according to NY1.
The teachers union is considering suing and is trying to determine if the city followed the law in its move to close schools, the News reported.