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City Eyes Nine Manhattan Schools for Closure

By Jill Colvin | November 2, 2011 6:02pm | Updated on November 3, 2011 7:08am
The High School of Graphic Communication Arts received an 'F' in this year's progress report.
The High School of Graphic Communication Arts received an 'F' in this year's progress report.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

MANHATTAN — The city has put eight more Manhattan public schools on alert that they could face closure due to poor performance, the Department of Education announced Wednesday.

Six high schools and two charter schools have joined a Lower East Side elementary school that was already on a list of 47 schools across the five boroughs that officials have formally identified as “struggling” — the first step toward closure.

The high schools are: The Legacy School For Integrated Studies in Chelsea, the High School Of Graphic Communication Arts in Hell’s Kitchen, Gramercy’s Washington Irving High School and the Manhattan Theatre Lab High School, Wadleigh Secondary School For the Performing and Visual Arts and the Frederick Douglass Academy II Secondary School on the Upper West Side.

Four of those schools received "F"s on their most recent progress reports. Wadleigh received a "D," after slipping from an "A" in 2009 and Frederick Douglass received a "C" — its third in as many years.

Washington Irving, which is among the state's lowest achieving schools, was spared last year because of a new incoming principal and other improvements, but is back on the list this year.

The Future Leaders Institute Charter School, a K-8 school in Harlem, and the Opportunity Charter School, which serves sixth through 12th grades on the Upper West Side, were two of six charter schools that made the city-wide list.

Last month, the DOE announced that the Lower East Side’s P.S. 137 John L. Bernstein School is had been placed on alert. 

Officials stressed that being included on the list only means that the schools have been flagged for “early engagement conversations” with the DOE.

“The goal of these discussions is to gain a better understanding of where weaknesses in their educational strategy lie and why they are struggling,” Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said in a statement.

“We'll take the feedback into consideration as we explore options to improve performance and support student success, and continue to work with all of our schools to ensure that students have access to high quality options.” 

But Michael Mulgrew President of the Teacher's Union said the city's efforts often fail.

"The “engagement” process should mean a real attempt by Tweed to help these struggling schools improve. But as history as shown, when it comes to sitting on their hands and watching schools fail, this administration has always gotten straight "A"s," he said in a statement. 

The decision about which schools to include is made by examining schools’ past performance, progress reports, enrollment data and improvements that may be underway, among other factors, DOE officials said"

The city flags schools that receive a single “F” or “D” grade or three “C”s in a row on their yearly progress reports for potential closure.

Charter schools that made the list either received an “F” on their most recent progress report or are up for renewal and have had “consecutive years of poor performance,” such as three years of “C”s, poor test scores, or serious operational issues.

Not all of the schools on the list will be closed, but if a struggling school continues to underperform despite leadership and curriculum changes, it can be phased out, gradually shrinking as students graduate.

Previous attempts to close schools have prompted litigation from the UFT.

Last year, the DOE's list also included 47 schools, seven of which were in Manhattan.