Members of the Queens City Council delegation called on Chancellor Joel Klein to abandon plans to close 20 city schools today.
Standing on the steps of Tweed Courthouse and joined by colleagues representing other boroughs, Queens Council members accused the Department of Education of threatening to close schools without first trying to improve them or seeking community input.
City Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach, said the DOE did not notify his office before announcing its proposal to close Beach Channel High School.
Ulrich is circulating a petition signed by nearly all of the Queens Council members calling on the DOE to abandon its plans to close the borough’s schools.
Ulrich said he intended to deliver the petition to Chancellor Joel Klein’s office this afternoon. (He jokingly said he might nail it to the doors of Tweed.)
Many of the 11 Council members and members-elect who attended the news meeting called for discussions with parents, community leaders, and the teachers union about how to improve struggling schools before resorting to closure.
“The Chancellor is turning his back on these students and these schools,” Queens Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “That is unacceptable.”
Three of the 20 schools the DOE has marked for closure this year are in Queens and two of the three — Jamaica and Beach Channel — are large high schools. Critics of the DOE’s plans to shutter the schools worry that the closures would displace students from eastern Queens, crowding them into already crowded schools such as Francis Lewis High School.