BY TRONE DOWD
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has come out in support of the faculty and parents of students at Arverne’s PS/MS 42 who are protesting the city’s proposed closure of the school.
In a letter obtained by sources familiar with the situation, Katz “requested the withdrawal of the proposal to close PS/MS 42 from the Panel For Educational Policy on Feb. 28.” Katz joined her colleagues in government—Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), state Sen. James Sanders (D-South Ozone Park), Assembly members Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica)—in their opposition to the closure.
“This school has made great strides to improve as part of the renewal schools program, and I believe we should afford them further time and our support to succeed,” Katz said in the letter. “At minimum, the item should be held over until we can further evaluate the progress the school is making as indicated by this year’s assessment. This will allow stakeholders additional time to share their concerns with the Department of Education.”
As previously reported by the Queens Tribune, the Rockaway school was one of 14 Renewal School closures proposed by the DOE in December, citing low performance on citywide test scores, stagnant graduation rates and the lack of college readiness among students, despite capital investments from the city. However, several teachers have pointed out that PS/MS 42 was included on that list, despite its steady improvement across the board over the past four years. This includes reduction in student suspensions, near-perfect faculty attendance and increased test scores. In fact, PS/MS 42 saw the highest growth in both ELA and math test scores from 2014 to 2017 out of all 20 Renewal Schools.
“If the DOE’s intention to close PS/MS 42 was because of low test scores, it is unsupported by the facts,” the letter stated.
On Feb. 8, members of United Federation of Teachers (UFT) took to Queens Borough Hall to protest the school’s closing, hoping to bring the borough president on board in their opposition. UFT Chapter Chairman John Krattinger told the Queens Tribune that the DOE was “completely out of line” with its decision. Teachers and parents have since met with the borough president’s office as well as attended a public hearing with the DOE in Manhattan.