Pheffer Amato, Addabbo Blast NYC School Placement Process as “Rigged,” “Totally Immune to Public Oversight”

“The Mayor must end the practice of making school decisions by fiat, in utter disregard of community input”

In a joint statement issued today following the decision to co-locate a seventh school inside Q410, a school building in the joint area of their district, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway) and State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Ozone Park) blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and the Department of Education bylaws that they say “we have learned from direct experience are designed expressly to approve whatever schools are proposed, with no meaningful attempt made to consider the community’s opinion on how those decisions would impact existing schools, programs and families.”

The co-location of New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities IV with Channel View School for Research, Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability, Rockaway Collegiate High School, PS 256, Alternate Learning Center – Beach Channel Educational Complex, and ReStart Academy “would create a juggling act for lunch times, auditorium space, every shared resource, as well as sticking a seventh bureaucracy under one roof,” said Pheffer Amato. “That’s unacceptable on its own.

“But that’s not the worst part of this,” she continued. “The worst part is how students, parents and community stakeholders at that meeting stood up, and bravely, clearly spoke about how this change would impact them – literally 100% of the comments, other than from New Visions itself, were in opposition – and no one heard them. The DOE made a big song and dance out of receiving input, taking us on tours, coming to our office to ‘address’ concerns – but clearly not a single one of the words they heard impacted them in any way. They refused to delay the vote to even hear an appropriate amount of public input.”

“This has been a foregone conclusion from the time of first proposal,” said a parent at Beach Channel Educational Complex. “New Visions has had signs up at our bus stops and glossy cards in our mailboxes announcing their arrival for well over a month and a half, with little fine print saying ‘pending PEP approval.’ They encourage us to sign our kids up. There’s no approval ‘process’ here. They know what they’re going to do, and they do it. Getting feedback is a song and dance. And that’s not an okay way to make educational decisions for our children.”

New York City has, since Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had a system of “Mayoral control” over schools – meaning all school location policies are decided by the Panel for Educational Policy, a majority of which is appointed by the Mayor. Delays or changes to school placement plans are all but unheard-of. “This entire process is dishonest, meant to sell already-decided policies, rather than create plans which work for the community,” said Pheffer Amato and Addabbo. “Students and families were hurt by this process in our backyard, and we’re not going to be quiet about it. This system is unacceptable and unsustainable, and it must change.”