Stop Democracy Prep Charter Takeover of PS 197M in Harlem

    I was at this school and saw with my own eyes something I had only heard about - the difference in the racial component of the teachers of the public school (mostly black and experienced) and the charter (white and young). So I guess "choice" means ending a lot more than just which school you go to.

    Here are some very important I extracted from the letter below to highlight:
    While our 5th Grade parents and students had to find space for the students for 6th Grade, the Department Of Education gave Democracy Prep the vacated space in our building to bring their own 6th Grade classes there. DOE policies eliminate 6th Grade in elementary schools to make space for charter schools.  [DOE STOPS PUBLIC SCHOOLS FROM GROWING ADN THEN CLAIMS PEOPLE WANT CHARTERS.]
    During the 2009-2010 School year, we were informed that Democracy Prep Charter School would be in our building for only one year [YES, THEY LIE ALL THE TIME]. They started out with six rooms. By the end of the school year, we learned that Democracy Prep wanted four more rooms for the 2010-2011 School Year. 
    Democracy Prep was allowed to get four additional rooms which totaled 11 so far; and then the DOE slashed our budget causing eight teachers to be excessed from our school. We believe this was done purposefully so that more rooms could be available for the charter takeover. 
    Ms. Rose stated that Richard Boccioccio, space allocation inspector, reported that “there are rooms for Democracy Prep to expand” from 6th- 8th grades by getting four additional rooms in our building.


    Greetings,
          You are invited to join us in Solidarity on Wednesday March 30th, 2011 at 5:30 pm at a DOE "Public Hearing" to voice your opposition to a charter takeover of PS 197M, and the privatization of public education. Bring signs, posters, banners, and cameras. The following letter went to all the parents and teachers and now to you all to give background information of what has been happening and where we are today. Please read it and come join us. This is another opportunity to organize a Citywide Movement For Public Education. An Injury to one is injury to us all! !!
     
    Directions:
    #2, 3 Trains to 135th Street, Manhattan, walk East to 5th Avenue to corner of 135th St and 5th Ave.
     
    PS 197M PARENT ASSOCIATION & UFT CHAPTER
    2230 Fifth Avenue
    New York, NY 10037

    March 25, 2011
    IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ CAREFULLY!

    PARENTS, PLEASE COME TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL, PS 197M!

    DOE HEARING : WEDNESDAY MARCH 30, 2011 AT 5:30 P.M.
    IN OUR SCHOOL AUDITORIUM

    Dear Parents or Guardians,

            In December 2008 – February 2009, we learned that our school’s 6th Grade classes were to be truncated; shortly afterwards, we also learned that Democracy Prep Charter School was coming to our building. Letters were sent to parents to inform them that preparations had been made for Grades 5th & 6th to graduate together that year in order to make space for Democracy Prep Charter School. Our 5th Graders had to find placement for 6th Grade for the following year. While our 5th Grade parents and students had to find space for the students for 6th Grade, the Department Of Education gave Democracy Prep the vacated space in our building to bring their own 6th Grade classes there. DOE policies eliminate 6th Grade in elementary schools to make space for charter schools.

    During the 2009-2010 School year, we were informed that Democracy Prep Charter School would be in our building for only one year. They started out with six rooms. By the end of the school year, we learned that Democracy Prep wanted four more rooms for the 2010-2011 School Year. As we were already meeting with teachers and parents about various issues concerning Public Education, including Budget Cuts, the illegal expansion of Democracy Prep became our focus. Teachers and Parents contacted a lawyer who was willing to help us with this issue Pro bono.

    On Friday June 4, 2010, PS 197M parents and teachers joined in a Citywide movement to rally against budget cuts, privatization of our Public Education and the Charter school invasion and takeover of Public School Buildings.

    Meanwhile, over the summer, the UFT learned about the issue and decided to offer  legal services bringing litigation against the DOE on behalf of the parents of PS 197M. The litigation charged the DOE did not follow State Law in allowing Democracy Prep to extend their stay and expand in the PS 197M building. According to State Law, the DOE had to prepare an Educational Impact Statement (EIS) detailing the impact of the extension and expansion of Democracy Prep in the building and hold a Public Hearing giving the parents and school community an opportunity to voice their concerns.

    Two things occurred; Democracy Prep was allowed to get four additional rooms which totaled 11 so far; and then the DOE slashed our budget causing eight teachers to be excessed from our school. We believe this was done purposefully so that more rooms could be available for the charter takeover. This caused an increase in class sizes in our school. By so doing, it seems the underhanded intent of this illegal process was meant to make it difficult for us to maintain high scores on the State Tests.  

    On February 7, 2011, Elizabeth Rose, the Director of Portfolio Planning at the DOE, was invited by Mr. Wright, PS 197M Principal, to the School Leadership Team (SLT) meeting to address the issue of space allocation for Democracy Prep and to clarify the rumors that PS 197M was going to be closed. Ms. Rose stated that Richard Boccioccio, space allocation inspector, reported that “there are rooms for Democracy Prep to expand” from 6th- 8th grades by getting four additional rooms in our building. She assured the School Leadership Team (SLT) members that PS 197M was not going to be closed at all. Ms. Rose indicated that the DOE will make arrangements with the SLT to hold a Public Hearing on the proposed expansion and permanent extension of Democracy Prep in our building.

    The vote on the proposed expansion and extension of Democracy Prep in our building is set for April 28, 2011 at the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) meeting in Brooklyn. We need to get ready for both.

    PS 197M has been an A+ School for the past 9 years. We have to organize for Parents and Teachers to demand to have our opinions and concerns addressed in our school. The Department of Education must fund Public Education for ALL Students equally.  Parents and Teachers, please come out in full force and voice your concerns and ideas at the Public Hearing to be held on Wednesday March 30th 2011 at 5:30 pm in our School Auditorium.

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Stop Democracy Prep Charter Takeover of PS 197M in Harlem


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