By Mariel S. Clark
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — Seven Manhattan schools — nearly all of them located in Harlem — may be closed due to poor performance, the Department of Education announced on Thursday.
The schools are among up to 47 citywide that have been struggling academically and could be eventually shuttered, a big uptick over the numbers from previous years.
"Too many kids are stuck in failing schools," DOE Deputy Press Secretary Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld said in a statement.
"Right now, we are looking at those schools that have been consistently struggling to determine whether they can improve with help or need to be replaced with a new school."
The struggling schools face being "phased-out" which means they'll stop enrolling new classes, thus losing one grade per year, until the school no longer exists while at the same time replacing the school with another by creating one grade per year.
The High School of Graphic Communication Arts (M625) in Chelsea has persistently done poorly and could be proposed for phase-out.
Five Harlem schools that were supposed to be closed last year but got a reprieve when the teachers’ union and the N.A.A.C.P filed a lawsuit could also be closed. The schools include Frederick Douglass Academy, Academy of Collaborative Education, Kappa II, Academy of Environmental Science Secondary High School and the Choir Academy of Harlem.
I.S. 195, Roberto Clemente in Harlem is also on the potential closure list for the first time.
City officials said they plant to communicate early and often with schools on the list by holding meetings to offer parents, teachers and others in the community a chance to give feedback.
"Before we make any decisions, we are meeting with their administrators, teachers and parents to determine the best path forward. But we need to do right by our kids, and that will involve some difficult decisions,” Zarin-Rosenfeld said.
More schools could be added or subtracted from the list in upcoming weeks as the state's list of persistently lowest achieving schools comes out. Also, new high school progress report data will come out soon which could potentially add more high schools to the list, Zarin-Rosenfeld said.
Not all of the schools on the list will be closed, some may just need a change in leadership or a different curriculum, Zarin-Rosenfeld said.
Last year the DOE started with about 50 struggling schools and eventually whittled the list down to 19 which were actually proposed for phase-out.
Final decisions on closures will be made by the end of November to early December for elementary and middle schools and mid-December for high schools.
One Manhattan school is off the chopping block for the time being. Washington Irving High School is among the state's lowest achieving schools, but it will not be closed because of a new incoming principal and other improvements, the paper reported.