Published: December 8, 2016
By Brendan Krisel
Parents representing two Upper West Side elementary schools have filed an appeal to combat rezoning with the city Department of Education.
UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — A controversial plan to reshape Upper West Side elementary school zones passed two weeks ago, but a group of disgruntled parents aren’t going to roll over and accept defeat.
A group of parents from PS 199 and PS 452 — the two schools most affected by the zone changes — have appealed the neighborhood Community Education Council’s (CEC) decision to approve a plan to redraw school zones for elementary schools from West 59th to West 116th street, Chalkbeat first reported.
The appeal was filed by Advocates for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that takes on public service cases. The firm’s lawyers Arthur Schwartz and Laura Barbieri are in charge of the appeal, an employee at the firm told Patch. Neither were able to speak with Patch on Thursday due to a court appearance.
The appeal states that the CEC — a group of parents representing the school district — violated open meetings laws and that the Department of Education refused to adhere to information requests regarding the rezoning plan, Chalkbeat reported. The appeal also claims that the rezoning plan will not achieve the DOE’s goals to alleviate district overcrowding or desegregate the the school district.
“The entire process by which CEC 3 went about handling this latest rezoning plan left District 3 parents so angry and demoralized that many, many parents have lost confidence in their elected leaders,” the appeal states, according to Chalkbeat.
The appeal, which will be reviewed by DOE Chancellor Carmen Fariña, may not pass but is a required first step toward suing the city.
The plan, as approved Tuesday, would reshape school zones for all district elementary schools from West 59th to West 116th street. The most drastic zone changes focus on three schools in the southern end of the district, PS 452, PS 191 and PS 199.
PS 452 on West 77th Street, which is at max capacity, to the building currently occupied by PS 191, a school full of students from the Amsterdam Houses, a nearby public-housing project. PS 191 would then get a brand-new building within the Riverside Center, a fancy new development a couple blocks south.
Then, perhaps most controversially, all future school kids living in two buildings within the Lincoln Towers community — 165 West End Ave. and 185 West End Ave. — would be directed to attend PS 191 as their default campus, instead of PS 199, where all their Lincoln Towers peers would still go to school.
The DOE’s rezoning plan for the Upper West Side, as approved by community leaders Tuesday, will only apply to future students. Current students will not be removed from their schools, and their younger siblings will be grandfathered in.