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Legacy High School to Close, DOE Panel Votes

By DNAinfo Staff on February 10, 2012 8:20am

By Mary Johnson and Andrea Swalec 

DNAinfo Staff

BROOKLYN — Despite weeks of student pleas that their school be given another chance, a city education panel voted Thursday night to close Legacy School for Integrated Studies. 

In a 9-4 vote, with one abstention, the Panel for Educational Policy, led by Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, included the Greenwich Village school in its list of 18 schools it will phase out this year. 

Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said low-performing Legacy needed serious help.

“As outcomes have improved across the city … the progress and the outcomes for students at this school have not improved," he said. “This, we think, is the right intervention. This is a school that has struggled for a long time.”

Legacy students were part of the rowdy crowd at the hearing held at Brooklyn Technical High School, where police estimated that at least 2,500 people crowded the auditorium and its balcony. 

Legacy senior and Upper West Side resident Nathaniel Kemp, 17, said he didn't think the DOE had fairly evaluated the school.

"They don't look inside the school," he said. "It's a safe school, and nobody understands that."

Student Bryant Acosta, 18, conceded that his education could have been better, but said the DOE hurt rather than helped students. 

"They're basically trying to shut us down and take us 10 steps backwards," he said.

Most of Legacy's students have reading skills below their grade levels and about a third either have learning disabilities or are learning to speak English, Legacy teachers told InsideSchools.org in December. 

The 350-student school in the office building at 34 W. 14th St. has been home in recent weeks to a social media campaign to keep the school open. Nearly 100 students walked out of class an hour early on Feb. 1 to rally in Union Square in support of the school. 

Legacy received a "C" on its 2009-2010 progress report, which cited a 59 percent graduation rate and a 77 percent attendance rate. 

In an effort to remedy the school's poor performance, the DOE restructured Legacy in 2010, installing popular principal Joan Mosely last summer, according to DOE records. 

On Legacy's progress report for the 2010-2011 school year, however, its grade dropped to an "F." Its graduation rate that year was 43 percent and its attendance rate fell to just 72 percent, DOE records show. 

Current Legacy students will be allowed to graduate from the school, but no new ninth graders will be admitted this fall.