Red Hook parents are criticizing the city Department of Education (DOE) for making important decisions without seeking their input.
They say the DOE selected P.S. 15 as the site for a new charter school without asking community residents what they think about the plan.
“The process that it was put in the school I think was totally illegal,” said Paul Van Liudentol, whose child attends P.S. 15, located at 71 Sullivan Street.
“The parent input was very minimal,” he said. “No parents from P.S. 15 knew that a charter school would come to this school.”
The DOE says it is seeking input from parents, as the opening of the PAVE Academy Charter School is currently just a proposal.
Last week, the DOE held a public hearing to allow parents and community residents to voice their concerns to department officials.
The department has also been talking to City Councilmember Sara González.
But González said the DOE did not inform her of the proposed space-sharing plan.
“I first found out about the charter school from parents,” she said. “I wasn’t involved.”
“The process has not included parent input,” said Jennifer Stringfellow, president of the Community Education Council (CEC) for District 15, which includes P.S. 15.
Since parents are the ones involved in day-to-day activities in schools, the DOE should seek their input when making decisions affecting children, Stringfellow said.
“We believe that we are actually intelligent enough to sit down and look at the numbers and look at the spaces and have a conversation,” Stringfellow said.
“I’m advocating that a process be put in place so that the community has a voice,” she continued.
Stringfellow noted that parents have often been left out of the loop when educrats decide where to house a new small school.
“Let’s not pretend this is the first time this is happening,” she said. “This happened at Khalil Gibran [International Academy]. They were told this is where you need to be.”
The DOE ultimately decided not to house Khalil Gibran at P.S. 282 in Park Slope after parents and students held several protests.
Jeanene Bennett-Nazario, whose daughter is a fourth-grader at P.S. 15, said that if the DOE conducted community outreach early in the decision-making process, residents might be more receptive to proposals.
“If you put a lot of the parents at ease, maybe it wouldn’t be a hard transition,” she said.