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Two Manhattan High Schools Marked for Closure

By Jill Colvin | December 8, 2011 3:04pm
"We can’t afford to have schools that are not supporting our children,” Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.
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William Alatriste/New York City Council

MANHATTAN — Two Manhattan high schools are among a dozen across the city on track for closure due to poor performance, the Department of Education announced Thursday.

The Legacy School For Integrated Studies near Union Square and the Manhattan Theatre Lab High School on the Upper West Side are among those the city that officials want to “phase out" one grade at a time.

The city is expected to add more schools to the list in a second announcement Friday, once those additional schools have been informed.

Both Legacy and Theatre Lab received "F"s on their most recent progress reports, and were among nine schools the city had flagged as “struggling” last month.

The list does not yet include two Harlem schools whose impending closure Princeton professor Cornel West had vowed to fight: the Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing Arts and the Frederick Douglass Academy II.

The announcement comes after two months of intense conversation with school leaders about the schools' performance and whether there was potential to improve, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

“These are never easy decisions, but when a school has failed to serve its students well year after year — even after receiving additional supports — we have a responsibility to provide students with better options," he said in a statement.

"We are already hard at work creating the great new schools that these communities deserve."

All school closures and phase-outs must be approved by the Panel for Educational Policy after a series of community hearings.

In previous years, the closures have been deeply controversial, prompting several lawsuits.

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew slammed the round of proposed closures as "another stunning failure of DOE management.”

“Rather than doing the hard work of helping struggling schools, the DOE tries to close them, making sure that the hardest-to-educate kids end up concentrated in the next school on the closure list,” he said in a statement.

“It's playing three-card monte with children's lives and education. It's wrong, and if our attorneys find that the DOE is violating state law in this process, we'll be seeing them in court."