Here is Gotham Schools' report on the Automotive Hearing:
Automotive High School
Few students turned out for the hearing about the city’s plan to replace Brooklyn’s Automotive High School. Instead, alumni outnumbered both students and teachers, crediting their careers as sanitation workers, auto mechanics, and members of the military to the technical training they received at Automotive.
Deputy Chancellor David Wiener said the city decided to close the school because it seems to be declining, rather than improving. He pointed to the the school’s 1 percent college or career readiness rate in 2011 and a student survey in which four of 10 students said that safety was a concern.
Last year, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch visited the school and criticized it publicly as a “warehouse” for students from other closed schools.
Current teachers did not try to praise the school. Instead, they said they opposed the turnaround plan because the department has not been successful in its previous improvement efforts to improve the school.
Tiffany Judkins, a graduate of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, became a “master teacher” at Automotive in 2010 when the school was among 11 to undergo “transformation” using federal School Improvement Grants. With interim acting principal Caterina Lafergola sitting two seats away on stage, Judkins testified that poor leadership had created a dysfunctional culture. The school, Judkins said in her testimony, has been plagued by ”rampant miscommunication, a lack of organization, and a lack of any kind of clarity of purpose in both the long and short term.”
Lafergola, who did not speak during the hearing, was hired in August just weeks after the nonprofit group New Visions was chosen to work with Automotive when the school entered the “restart” reform model last fall. She is the third principal since 2009 and will stay on next year under the city’s plan.
“This place has had no stability and we’ve had constant changes in leadership,” said Will Stasiuk, a 17-year teacher at the school. “We’ve been fed so many different visions and so many different directions that nothing has been tried out a long period of time.”