ASTORIA — Parents fighting a Department of Education plan to reduce the size of a popular Gifted and Talented program at Astoria’s P.S. 122 had a long-awaited sit-down with Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Monday night.
Deborah Alexander, whose son is set to attend P.S. 122’s gifted middle school, said the meeting was positive and that she and other parents are “optimistic” the DOE will take their concerns to heart.
“Chancellor Walcott and Deputy Chancellor [Marc] Sternberg were thoughtful and responsive to our statements and promised us an answer in a week's time,” she said.
The DOE is planning to significantly reduce the number of classes at P.S. 122’s high-ranking gifted middle school Academy in order to extend its general education classes — which currently end after fifth grade — through eighth grade.
Parents worry that the Academy cuts will dismantle the prestigious program — a source of pride for district 30 — and that expanding the general education classes by three grades at P.S. 122 will overcrowd the school.
The DOE says the change is to comply with a city regulation that requires all K-8 schools allow every student the opportunity to remain enrolled there through middle school. But district 30 parents argue P.S. 122 is not a traditional K-8, but an elementary school with a separate middle school program.
“They’re coming in and stirring everything up over this regulation that doesn’t really apply to us,” Alexander said. “No one feels an inequity here.”
Parents have considered legal action to try and stop the DOE from instituting changes at the school.
Alexander said the group's attorney filed a petition with the state's education commissioner at the end of March, but that they are "hopeful" the DOE will work with them to avoid taking further steps.