Tonight: Marine Park JHS To Fight City’s Effort To House A High School In Their Building

Faculty and parents of Marine Park Junior High School will come before Community District Education Council 22 tonight to decry the city’s plan to insert a small high school within the same building that houses the junior high. The challenge echoes the enormous battle a little over a year ago to install a charter school in the same location, which parents successfully fought.

An executive boardmember of the Parents Association at Marine Park J.H.S. (I.S. 278) explained the city’s plan to the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association during its November 18 meeting, saying that the Department of Education will fill the 300 empty seats in the school with high school students.

The vagueness of the department’s plan appears to be the most contentious part.

“So where are these kids coming from?” asked Louise Quinlan, the parents association boardmember. “We don’t know. Are they kids that aged out? Are they kids that nobody else wants? We don’t know. But we have 300 seats and they want to fill them.”

Quinlan said the school will have an entirely separate administration and principal, which has not yet been introduced to the community.

Opponents are also miffed over a snub to the school’s own plans.

Marine Park J.H.S. has been fighting to use the additional seats for a school for high-functioning autistic children from the community who’ve aged out of the elementary schools. Currently, Quinlan said, the only place in the borough for those students is downtown Brooklyn.

Quinlan also railed against the city’s attempts to ram the application process through during a time they’d expect minimal resistance.

“They know exactly what they’re doing even though they tell us they don’t. They’re hoping to slip this by in the holiday season when people are busy and they don’t have time to go to these meetings and they don’t have time to say anything,” she told the civic. “But we’ve got to jump on it before the plan is made.”

The CDEC meeting is tonight at 7:00 p.m. in P.S. 312 (7103 Avenue T, Bergen Beach). Representatives from the city will be in attendance.

The community of parents and faculty that supports Marine Park Junior High School has successfully fought such battles before.

In June 2009, a plan to bring the Hebrew Language Academy Charter School to the building drew overwhelming opposition. More than 700 people turned out to a public hearing, and opponents gathered 6,441 petitions. The charter school – not the city – decided to withdraw its application and look elsewhere.

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