Panel votes to close 24 failing New York City schools
NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's official - 24 New York City public schools will be closed or overhauled.
Despite an emotional plea from parents, an education panel voted around midnight to close schools in four different boroughs.
The only borough that was unscathed was Staten Island, and two schools were saved ahead of the vote. The decision to keep Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School open came just hours before the contentious meeting.
In a statement, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the two high schools "demonstrated an ability to continue their improvements without the more comprehensive actions that are clearly needed at 24 other schools."
The Panel for Educational Policy voted to close the schools due to poor performance, and 1,000 teachers could be displaced.
The city plans to re-open the schools in the fall with the same students, but with new names, new teachers and new administrators.
The meeting leading up to the vote was packed with a fury and disgust that never ebbed.
"It is you who are failing tonight and it's the mayor who has failed for the past 10 years," City Councilman Jumaane Williams said.
Among the speakers was 17 year old Lehman High School student Melvin Hydleburg.
"We are simply your lab rats," Hydleburg said. "You are experimenting with our education."
Parents, teachers and students denounced the closures at the meeting, which lasted more than five hours. One woman accused the panel of using the shutdowns to break the teachers union.
"This is union busting, pure and simple," teacher Megan Behrent said. "And in the process, it is the students who will get left behind."
Walcott says that's not it at all.
"All of this is about making sure our students get a high-quality education," he said. "And taking a look at the closing and making sure the schools benefit in the long run."
Here is the full list of schools that are closing:
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- New York City Department of Education
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- New Jersey Department of Education
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