Archive for the tag 'department of education'

doe-logoI don’t know why anybody would want to send their kid to Stuyvesant when Sheepshead Bay High School is in their own backyard, but, hey, if you’re one of those parents then the deadline for that opportunity is coming up.

Students applying to high school for the 2015-2016 school year can register for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) through Wednesday, October 22, at noon. Eighth graders or first-time 9th graders who are residents of New York City can register for the SHSAT through their guidance counselor. Students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs) may be eligible to receive testing accommodations on the SHSAT.

There are nine Specialized High Schools in New York City:

  • The Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Stuyvesant High School

For eight of these schools, admission is based solely on the score attained on the SHSAT. For LaGuardia High School, admission is based upon auditions and a review of student academic performance.

You must register by October 22, and most of the testing will be done the weekend of October 25 and October 26.

You can find more information on Specialized High Schools here.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement.

Borough President Adams was joined by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and other legislative colleagues in making the announcement. (Source: Adams’ office)

Several local schools are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars each for repairs, upgrades and improvements as part of a $3.1 million allocation by Borough President Eric Adams to education institutions across the borough.

The beep today unveiled 16 school-related capital projects that will benefit from the allocation, which was packed into the city’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

“If you look around Downtown Brooklyn, something new is rising up every day and this is an exciting time for the borough and this area, as education and schools represent the vibrant energies of what’s coming up at this time,” said Borough President Adams. “This budget spans the far reaches of the borough; from Metrotech to Midwood and from Bed-Stuy to Bath Beach, we are leaving no school behind. Our goal is education, education, and education.”

The allocations are largely for technology upgrades, although some schools are receiving it for more general improvements.

Schools in our area are slated to receive the following:

  • $350,000 to James Madison High School for upgrades to the school’s library and media centers;
  • $225,000 for improvements to the library at Sheepshead Bay High School;
  • $200,000 for classroom technology purchases at Joseph B. Cavallaro I.S. 281;
  • $100,000 for classroom technology purchases at P.S. 169;

Local elected officials joined Adams during the announcement this morning to celebrate the funding.

“School libraries and media centers are essential to the success of today’s high school students,” said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein. “I thank Brooklyn Borough President Adams for this funding, which will enhance these services at Sheepshead and James Madison High Schools, and allow students to reach even greater heights.”

“Investing in education is the best investment we can make for the future of our state and country,” said Assemblymember William Colton. “These capital improvements will help bring much-needed technological advancements to our local Brooklyn schools that will better our children. This $200,000 capital grant for I.S. 281 will allow for the school to make technology improvements, including by purchasing smartboards and computer laptops, that will benefit our students by enhancing their learning experience, and provide valuable resources for our educators.”

Chancellor Farina (Source: DOE)

The head of the New York City Department of Education, Chancellor Carmen Farina, will take questions from the public at a town hall hosted by Community Education Council District 21 tonight.

The local advisory council is urging neighbors and parents to attend the meeting, where parents can bring up issues and ask questions about the city’s educational policies directly with Farina. Speaking time is limited to two minutes per speaker, and must sign-up to speak before the meeting begins. Interpretation services will be available.

The council is also holding a high school admission workshop tonight, featuring an expert who will guide parents through the process, and give tips on things to look for when considering a school for your child.

Community Education Councils are advisory bodies that replaced school boards. They help guide policies at local schools, and serve as advocates for their district’s needs to the larger government. District 21 includes schools throughout Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gravesend and parts of Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst. You can see a full list here.

The high school workshop begins at 5pm. The town hall with Chancellor Farina begins at 6pm. The regularly scheduled meeting begins at 7pm.

The meeting will be held at I.S. 226 Alfred D. Be Mason, 6006 23rd Avenue.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

Source: Dan Nguyen/Flickr

Sure, public schools open tomorrow. But maybe you’re a last minute kind of person – or one of any number of things got in the way – and you still need to get your kid registered for school, pre-k or free lunch.

Fortunately, the Department of Education is making things a little easier with new temporary registration centers spread across the five boroughs to make it easier to enroll students or get questions answered. And they’ve launched online tools to apply for free lunch (deadline tomorrow) and pre-k.

As for the temporary registration centers, not everybody needs to head to one. New elementary and middle school students who have zoned schools, including those with an Individualized Education Program, should register at their zoned school beginning tomorrow, September 4. You can find your zoned school here or by calling 311.

Registration centers are for those who live in a neighborhood without a zoned school, as well as all new high school students (including those with an IEP).

There are three Brooklyn registration centers:

  • Edward R. Murrow High School, 1600 Avenue L
  • Clara Barton High School, 901 Classon Avenue
  • Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Green Place

The centers are open from now through Friday, September 12, 2014 from 8:00am to 3:00pm.

Here’s the information from the DOE on what to bring:

Parents must bring their child(ren) with them to register. The following documents are required:

  • Child’s birth certificate or passport
  • Child’s immunization records
  • Child’s latest report card/transcript (if available)
  • Child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) and/or 504 Accommodation Plan (if applicable)

In addition, parents must demonstrate proof of residency by bringing any of the following two documents*:

  • Utility bill in the resident’s name (National Grid, Con Edison, or the Long Island Power Authority); must be dated within the past 60 days
  • Water bill for the residence; must be dated within the past 90 days
  • Original lease agreement, deed, or mortgage statement for the residence
  • Current property tax bill for the residence
  • Official payroll document from an employer [example: payroll receipt]; must be dated within the past 60 days
  • Document or letter from a federal, state, or local government agency indicating the resident’s name and address [example: document from Internal Revenue Service (IRS), City Housing Authority, the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)]; must be dated within the past 60 days

* If the parent is not the leaseholder of residence, he/she must submit a Residency Affidavit.

Families can still register for universal pre-k and can find more information at nyc.gov/prek or by texting “prek” to 877877.

Aside from getting registered, the Department of Education is also making it easier to get enrolled in the free meals program.

Breakfast is at no charge to all students, while lunch normally costs $1.75. Some students qualify for free meals - but the application must be in before tomorrow, September 4, the start of school. You can apply online here. If you have any questions, please contact The Office of SchoolFood at (877) 363-6325.

Sunny Skies

Source: Sunny Skies

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the preliminary recipients of $340 million in pre-kindergarten funding yesterday, including a couple in our area - Brighton Beach’s Sarah Winner Group Family Day Care and Sunny Skies Preschool.

Provided state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli approves the awards, Sarah Winner Group Family Day Care (2997 Ocean Parkway) will land $120,000 from the state and Sunny Skies Coney Island (2585 Coney Island Avenue) will receive $300,000 as part of a program that is awarding hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for 81 school districts and community-based organizations across the state.

The funding, which is included in the 2014-15 state budget, is the first installment in the governor’s commitment to invest $1.5 billion over the next five years to build a statewide universal full-day pre-kindergarten program.

The city Department of Education is slated to land nearly $300 million to build its universal pre-kindergarten program for all 4-year-olds in the city – which stems from Cuomo’s promise to pay for such a program in lieu of Mayor Bill de Blasio raising taxes to pay for it, as the mayor had originally aimed to do upon taking office.

The funds slated for private daycare operators are to fill the gap in the number of seats required to meet the need, which the Department of Education alone does not have the space for.

“Training and educating young minds is one of the smartest investments we can make as a state, as studies demonstrate that pre-kindergarten has a long lasting, positive influence on our children’s education and future success,” Cuomo said in his press release. “The state budget this year included a major investment in early education, putting New York state on the path to become just the fourth state in the nation to establish universal full day pre-K. The awards we are announcing today will enable tens of thousands of children to attend pre-K classes, and represent another step in the State’s work to prepare our students to compete in the 21st century economy.”

As part of state and city officials push for a full-day pre-kindergarten program, numerous lawmakers and educators, including Cuomo and de Blasio, stressed that studies have shown that children who participate in early education programs are more likely to read at grade level and graduate from high school than those who do not.

“We are proud to have Governor Cuomo as a strong partner in making pre-K for All a reality for the children of New York City,” de Blasio said in the same release. “This funding represents a powerful commitment by the State to build a new, stronger education foundation that will transform our schools. We are working tirelessly to make good on this opportunity to deliver new pre-K options, improve existing ones and build a high-quality system that lifts up every child.”

The full list of recipients of the $340 million is available here.

school classroom by Dan Nguyen

A new, more inclusionary approach to educate NYC students with special needs is proving easier said than done, says a new report by Chalkbeat. The organization spoke to students, parents, and school officials and found that schools are struggling to implement mandatory reforms to special education, while its effect on students is still unproven.

Integrating special needs students by enrolling them in general education classes, mixed classes (including typical and special needs students), or a combination of the two, was an idea first publicly introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The proposal was launched as a pilot at a limited number of city schools in 2010, and launched citywide in 2012. Chalkbeat, though, found that some schools lacked the resources and the scramble to implementation is leaving some of the neediest students behind.

Students affected by this Special Education Reform and interviewed by Chalkbeat each had unique experiences, some positive, some not. They include Joseph, a middle schooler with ADHD who was placed in mixed classes as per the city’s new policies, and for whom no purely special education classes were available when attempts to mainstream proved unsuccessful; Noah, whose mother Britt Sady pushed for his inclusion in a general education class so as to set higher standards for his learning and increase his chances of graduation; Christon Solomon, a middle schooler who says small learning sessions in special education classes work better for him than general education; and Thomas, who was suspended often in special education classes, but is doing better since being introduced to mainstream and mixed classes.

The experiences of parents and kids profiled are diverse, as are the abilities of the schools discussed to see that students’ needs are met–often, says Chalkbeat, schools simply aren’t provided with adequate staffing or financial resources to abide by the 2012 reforms. This is the case with Joseph–whose transfer to another school was finally approved only near the end of the school year, and presumably because his mother Clara, who works for the Department of Education, came armed with a certain amount of knowledge regarding red tape.

“Sometimes, if the parent doesn’t question [a school's inadequate handling of a special needs child's education], it just goes under the radar,” family advocate Olga Vazquez, of mental illness and developmental disability service support agency ICL, told the publication.

Certain schools are benefitting from reforms more than others. The article says funding is disproportionately doled out to schools with integrated classrooms instead of simply general and special education ones, and parents of both typical and special needs students at Harlem’s P.S. 112, for example, have requested mixed classes to enhance their kids’ educational experiences.

However the jury is still out, quantitatively speaking, on the effectiveness of integrating kids of different abilities into the same classrooms. Chalkbeat says some test scores have increased marginally, but others have not. What does appear to be clear is a widening discrepancy in disciplinary action being handed down to special needs students in mainstream classrooms, but DOE Deputy Chancellor Corinne Rello-Anselmi says Chancellor Carmen Fariña has no plans to overhaul the 2012 reforms.

If you’re an New York City educator or parent, what’s your take on the matter? Have you run into any of the problems stated in Chalkbeat’s article, or seen students improve under new policies? Should properly run mixed classrooms benefit all students–and what would running them properly entail of schools, teachers, and the DOE? How would funding and resources be distributed if you had it your way?

Photo by Dan Nguyen

The Brooklyn Public Library has expanded its annual Summer Meals Program, offering no-cost lunch to children and teens ages 18 and under.

It’s a major expansion for the program, run by the New York City Department of Education with federal funds, more than quadrupling it from the six sites available last year.

The program is made to ensure that during the summer months, when kids are out of school, no child or teen will go hungry. The season kicked off June 27 and last until August 29, with lunches served every weekday from 1:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at each of the libraries.

It’s a no-questions-asked policy, and citizenship status is not a factor.

The following local branches are part of the program. Those with asterisks only offer meals from Tuesday to Friday.

For the full list of participating branches, look here.

Colgan (Source: P.S. 254)

Colgan (Source: P.S. 254)

Teachers, students and faculty gathered in the cafeteria of P.S. 254 (1801 Avenue Y) yesterday to honor the passing of a longtime school aide by renaming the facility Mary Colgan cafe in her memory.

Colgan served 43 years in the New York City school system, first at P.S. 52 on Nostrand Avenue, and then at P.S. 254, where she stayed for more than 33 years. She passed away from cancer on September 21, 2013.

The beloved school aide was born May 13, 1935, and grew up with a large family of 11 brothers and sisters. She married Ronald Colgan in 1955, and had two children, Donna and Ronald, who she raised in Sheepshead Bay. In addition to her six grandchildren, Colgan found herself with an even larger extended family – that of the entire P.S. 254 community – which grieved her passing.

The Tuesday ceremony featured student performances in her honor, while colleagues, students and her family shared recollections. In addition to renaming the cafeteria, the school is launching the “Mary Colgan – You Have to Believe Award,” which will be given to a student leader who fosters a positive attitude.

Here’s the statement from the school:

Mary Colgan’s NYCDOE Start of Employment was January 1, 1970 at PS 52, and then start of employment in our school, PS 254 was September 8, 1980. She worked in our school for over 33 years. She devoted a great amount of her life to providing the BEST opportunities to students in our school community. From ensuring a safe morning arrival, supervising breakfast being served, requesting busing for school/class trips, monitoring student daily attendance, to calculating after school snacks, calling parents, distributing/receiving/organizing important legal school documents to directing an Extra Curricular After-school program for the Greater Sheepshead Bay; she did it all and then some!

Mary Colgan’s face, spirited voice, and her passionate work mostly took place in our school cafeteria each day. She ensured the safety of our students who arrived early on the school bus, that those students who needed to eat breakfast, did so, timely and that they had enough recess-time before morning line-up at 8am.

Mary was an active, outspoken member of several school committees such as: the SLT, Safety/BRT, Attendance and subcommittee member for various school Performances, such as a Ticket Agent/Distributor and Collector, Ice Cream Purchaser and School Trip Coordinator. She also believed in the importance of UNITY. She diligently represented and supported school DC37 Union members as their Shop Steward. These are just few titles and duties Mary Colgan upheld to the best of her ability however, she did WAY MORE than just maintain these responsibilities.

Mary added joy and sometimes a sprinkle of humor to the school’s Main Office as she sat at her desk situated at the very front counter. She welcomed concerned parents, visitors of many titles; from Mom, Dad, Sibling or Relative to Superintendent, District Representative, Salesperson, Prospective Educator, Substitute or Teaching Observers completing their Educational Prep Courses. Mary was the First Impression of the Heart of our school. She demonstrated the general pulse of the school without hesitation as guests arrived. She always remembered that she herself was a Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother, and Wife and therefore treated our guests as if they were a member of this school family. She never hesitated to help ANYONE or to give a SWEET TREAT to someone in our school community.

Her passion was for the child who needed it the most. Whether their needs included: nurturing, daily structure, routine, a commanding voice, a soft voice with a Grandma-like hug telling them that they are special, a coat, supplies, or some extra food; Mary gave it to them! At times she may have said “I don’t care!” The reality is, she DID care and sometimes she cared so much that she was frustrated with the limited outcomes or results she saw in short time periods. She ALWAYS gave to those special students that may have been looked at as needing a little more than the norm because they held a special place in her heart as she did in theirs!!!!

Mary rarely missed work unless she had to go shopping for more matching JETS or METS apparel to wear on T-Shirt Tuesday. However, on a more serious note, Mary worked through her colds, coughs and illnesses. She truly LOVED coming to our school each and every day. She was frustrated and saddened when she took ill and just couldn’t beat the discomfort she was in. Each day, she attempted to continue to walk the 12 blocks to and from home to get to work. She finally gave in and accepted car rides from her colleagues at least on the days of inclement weather. Mary fought through and made her impact on all of us in our school community, all the way up to the very last day of the 2012-13 School Year.

When we think of Mary Colgan… we think of a STRONG-MINDED, PASSIONATE WOMAN, who was a DEDICATED, ORGANIZED, HARD WORKER, with PRIDE and CONFIDENCE. She was a SPORTS FAN, DAILY NEWS Reader, SMOKER, LOUD & OUTSPOKEN, TELL-YOU-LIKE-SHE-SEES-IT kind of woman. She was SELFLESS and GENEROUS, THOUGHTFUL, THOROUGHLY ENCOURAGING, SUPPORTIVE and truly a GREAT FRIEND! We were very fortunate to have had her in our school community for such a long period of time.

Mary Colgan is and will always be missed at PS 254 but she will remain in our hearts and memories.

Teacher Alini Brito (r.) was found naked from the waist up with co-worker Cindy Mauro (l.) by a janitor in a James Madison High School classroom in 2009.

Cindy Mauro (left) and Alini Brito (right)

More than three years after being fired for an after-hours sexual tryst in a classroom, a judge has ordered the Department of Education to rehire the two Madison High School teachers who got dirty in the dark.

Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito were fired in December 2010, more than a year after reports surfaced that the two foreign language teachers were caught by a janitor “undressed” in an empty classroom. The teachers have since been fighting for their jobs back, and an appeals court decided that their termination was “shockingly disproportionate,” since both were consenting adults not at the school in an official capacity at the time of the incident.

“The penalty of termination of unemployment is shockingly disproportionate to (their) misconduct,” the Manhattan Appellate Division wrote in their decision. The five-member panel noted that “lesser penalties have been imposed where a teacher had an ongoing relationship or engaged in inappropriate behavior with a student.

Mauro and Brito’s lawyer suggested to the Daily News that they may pursue back pay as well.

Department of Education officials may appeal the decision. If they choose not to, they may still impose less sever penalties against the teachers.

The two were caught undressed in a classroom in 2009 by a janitor. It was later reported that they had a few drinks after school at a local bar, then went back to the school to watch a student performance. At some point, they headed to a darkened classroom and undressed.

At the time, Mauro said she was helping give Brito, who suffers from diabetes, an insulin shot. A state arbitrator later determined that the two were “more likely than not” engaged in a “sexual encounter.”

Source: InsideSchools.org

Source: InsideSchools.org

A Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences (1830 Shore Boulevard) teacher was arrested by police yesterday for bringing an air rifle and a toy handgun into the building, but others say that she had the school’s permission and was busted for bumping heads with the school’s administration.

Latalladi (via LinkedIn)

Latalladi (via LinkedIn)

English teacher Vilma Latalladi, 53, walked into the school lobby carrying the rifle, a replica Red Ryder made famous in the film A Christmas Story, in her hands. A source tells Sheepshead Bites she approached the security desk and Assistant Principal Michael Weinstein to clear the items for a class demonstration. She was given the green-light, and headed to the elevator with two other teachers.

The phony firearms were intended to be used in a lesson plan. Her husband, Rick Luisi, told the Daily News that they’ve got the documentation to prove that she had clearance.

“She was gonna do a lesson a plan — something about talking about violence with the kids,” husband Rick Luisi said Thursday at their family home in the Rockaways. “My wife could take a staple and make it into a lesson plan.”

… “She cleared it with security, she had already gone through security and was in the classroom when they started to make a big deal about it,” Luisi said. “There’s documentation to prove it.”

After police put the teacher in handcuffs, they brought her to Coney Island Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, and charged her with Prohibited Use of a Weapon and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds, according to the NYPD.

But a teacher at the school told Sheepshead Bites that it’s a whole lot of hullabaloo, and an example of mismanagement by the school’s administrator.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the long-time teacher at the school told Sheepshead Bites that Latalladi not only had permission, but was also the one to call the cops.

After heading to the classroom with security’s permission, the guard and assistant principal decided to pay Latalladi a visit.

“She called the police because she thought they were harassing her, and they called because they had to,” the source said.

At least 40 police officers arrived on the scene although the school never went into lockdown, the source said. The NYPD would not confirm whether they received the initial call from Latalladi.

The source said the conflict had deep roots in the relationship between Latalladi and the school’s administration.

“They’ve been butting heads for a while,” the source said. “It’s been an ongoing power struggle between the [Latalladi and Weinstein] where she was observed by the AP a few weeks ago and she wrote a letter to the superintendent saying they were harassing her.”

The source said the problems extend far beyond the one teacher, and that the administration has a record of heavy-handed reprisals.

“This administration is like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. If she was allowed to go upstairs and that was acceptable, then why was she was arrested?” the source said. “My feeling about the administration is that it’s generally heavy-handed. If any teacher did something they didn’t like, they can get her arrested? And he ordered a psychiatric evaluation, which I’m not even sure is legal.”

The teacher also griped about how the administration handled the affair afterwards. They sent a letter home to parents describing the incident, but little else.

“There was no meeting called for the staff [yesterday] afternoon, which would have been the right thing to do. You don’t have to give us the dirty details, but basically say we did A, B and C,” the source said. “My concern is that they did not, in my estimation, follow a protocol that was taking everybody’s safety into account.”

Even the source noted, however, that bringing any form of gun into school was not the wisest decision.

“Why would she bring a gun into school? I can’t even imagine what she was thinking,” said the source. “If a kid makes a threatening gesture like pretending his hand is a gun, he can be suspended from school.”

A call to the school’s principal was not returned by publication. We will update this post if we receive a response.

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