By Andrea Karshan
To save the school’s performing arts program, a plan to co-locate Uncommon Charter Schools at East Flatbush’s I.S. 285 Meyer Levin Junior High School, has been reversed.
In March of this year, Department of Education (DOE) officials announced that they would be placing Kings Collegiate Charter School, which is run by Uncommon Charter Schools, into Meyer Levin, 5909 Beverly Road between East 59th Street and Ralph Avenue.
Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, parts of Midwood and Canarsie), Assembly Member Nick Perry (East Flatbush, Canarsie) and Senator Kevin S. Parker(East Flatbush, Flatlands, Flatbush-Ditmas Park, Park Slope) fiercely opposed the plan, which would have displaced the school’s performing arts program on the third floor of the building – the same floor sited for the charter school.
The elected officials and advocates held hearings, conference calls, and sent letters in the hopes of persuading the DOE from going forward with the forced co-location. The Panel for Educational Policy reversed the decision which drew praise from the politicians.
Parker says he fully supports the Department of Education’s decision to withdraw the proposal for the co-location at Meyer Levin Junior High School.
” I am proud to have worked with both my colleagues at the city and state level, parents, teachers, and administrators to highlight the value of the performing arts spaces at MeyerI am not opposed to charters or co-locations, it is important that we continue to make students a priority and integrate schools with full consideration of educational and community impact,” said Parker.
Perry noted that a co-location at Meyer Levin would have jeopardized the school’s long-term viability as a destination for young people in the community with an interest in the performing arts. added.
“I applaud the students, parents, teachers, administration and entire community for their steadfast and resolute stance against the ill-advised plan. It serves as a reminder to all what a united East Flatbush neighborhood can accomplish together,” said Perry.
Williams is proud of the work that was done in preventing “this forced co-location.”
“From the onset I was clear that my position wasn’t against charter schools, but against this specific co-location that would not only be intrusive, but downright problematic. Meyer Levin’s performance arts program, which is housed on the third floor, offers a vital resource to a group of children, who would otherwise not be exposed to, or have the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits that come with an arts education,” said Williams.
A spokesperson for Uncommon Schools said the DOE did inform the network it found another site in Brooklyn for the Kings Collegiate Charter School. However, the spokesperson would not elaborate until they received confimation to speak to the media as it was late in the day when they were contacted.
The charter school network currently serves over 5,900 K-12 students across 21 schools in Brooklyn, including both single-sex and co-educational schools. The schools are located in the neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Prospect Heights and Williamsburg.
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