Contacts: Williamsburg and Greenpoint Parents: Our Public Schools! (WAGPOPS!),
firstname.lastname@example.org, Brooke Parker, 917/251-1596
Parents Accuse DOE of Racist Co-locations
Parents, Students, and Teachers Rally to Oppose 3rd School Being ‘Shoehorned’ Into Williamsburg School
Hundreds of parents, along with their children and their children’s teachers, will rally in protest of a DOE proposal to co-locate a second middle school inside their children’s school building, alongside the existing middle school, MS 582, and the elementary school, PS 196. Parents have expressed outrage at the proposal, indicating that there is no community support whatsoever for this plan, only unified community opposition. Some parents have also accused the city’s Department of Education (DOE) of racism.
“If this school was all Caucasian people, this would not be happening,” said Maria Brunson, who has a daughter in the sixth grade at MS 582. District 14 Community Education Council president Tesa Wilson said that the Department of Education’s plan to add one more school to the building that already houses PS 196 and MS 582 would result in the loss of valuable special classes and programs because they would be deemed unnecessary for her minority kids. “They are going to look at my brown and black children and tell me that they can’t have a dance room or a science lab, that it’s a luxury,” said Wilson. “These extra rooms aren’t luxuries, they are rights.”
Opposition from local elected officials is strong and extensive, including Coucilmember Diana Reyna; Assemblywoman Maritza Davila; Antonio Reynoso, Democratic City Council candidate; and Public Advocate, Letitia James. Many business groups in the community are opposed to the proposal as well. They have signed on to a letter saying that it is counterproductive to the interests of the education of the students at the existing schools, as well as of the community at large. Local Community Board 1 also opposes the plan.
“This campus currently provides a variety of unique services and houses one of the largest populations of self-contained special education and special needs students in the district,” said Councilmember Diana Reyna.
“Contrary to what the Department of Education is saying, the space at PS 196 is by no means underutilized.”
“We use every inch of our building to enrich the lives of our students,” said Roseann Randazzo, a third grade teacher who has been at the school for eight years.
Parent groups have committed to be out in huge numbers to vent their frustration and anger with the proposal, both at the rally in front of the school that begins at 4:30 pm, as well as at the Joint Public Hearing taking place inside the school at 5:30 pm.