By Suzanne Ma
LOWER EAST SIDE — The much sought after Shuang Wen School, in Chinatown, won a reprieve Tuesday from a controversial city proposal to expand a neighboring charter school into its classrooms.
Plans to accommodate the expansion of Girls Prep Charter School will not affect the popular dual-language elementary school, also known as P.S. 184., that has become a magnet for students all over the five boroughs.
In a letter addressed to Shuang Wen's principal and school leaders, the department of education has agreed that there just isn't enough space to accommodate more students in the school's current building on East Broadway.
Shuang Wen's successful dual language program, which offers its students courses in Mandarin Chinese, was also a factor in the DOE's decision.
"Given the existing commitment around the dual language program and admissions, as well as the current enrollment trend we will not be placing any school or program into the building for the 2010-2011 school year," wrote Debra Kurshan, the department's interim director of portfolio planning.
But other district schools, including one that caters to autistic children, still face losing classroom space to Girls Prep.
On Tuesday, Shuang Wen parents and officials joined parents from P.S. 188 (The Island School), P.S. 94, P.S. 20 and local state assemblyman Sheldon Silver at a press conference to protest the expansion.
"Any plan that comes at the expense of a local schools is not a plan to build educational opportunities but a plan to break apart our community," Silver said.
"This is not a plan for education this is not a plan for our community and its not a plan for the future of our children."
Troy Robinson, a parent of three Shuang Wen students and a member of the School Leadership Team, said the schools have proposed a number of alternatives, including looking into renting space from Catholic schools in the city.
Meanwhile, parents, teachers and students from Girl Prep also held a press conference on Tuesday, on the steps of City Hall.
"Our parents are upset that they have been made the bad guys in this scenario," Girls Prep founder and executive director Miriam Raccah told DNAinfo.
"This is an opportunity to say we're not the bad guys. We're eager to partner with whomever to find a solution for all children."
The DOE plans to announce its final decision in early January.
Department spokesman William Havemann told DNAinfo that DOE officials "are taking all feedback very seriously" in the meantime.