The Williamsburg Charter High School, a new “State-of-the-Art” high school located on Varet Street in Brooklyn, has been put on probation and may have its charter removed at the end of this school year, forcing hundreds of children to have their education interrupted midway through their high school years. The New York City Department of Education is threatening to pull the schools charter for what they claim are fund discrepancies, fund misallocations and Board of Trustee members’ conflicts of interest. In a letter sent to the students, parents and posted on the WCHS Web site, the Principal of the school, Ms. Marsha Spampinato, stated:
Today, the New York City Department of Education publicized their intent to revoke Williamsburg Charter High School’s operating charter at the end of the 2011-2012 school year based on the concerns regarding items such as the school’s organizational structure, Board of Trustees’ composition, and compliance with the school’s charter and applicable state law. Please note that none of the New York City Department of Education’s concerns relate to the school’s academic program.
Principal Spampinato went on to assure the parents and students that the WCHS will continue its commitment to the highest academic standard possible. The conflict began as the result of an NYCDOE audit of the WCHS. After the audit, the NYCDOE sent their “preliminary findings” to the WCHS. The findings listed approximately 25 discrepancies which required a written response from the WCHS. Out of the 25 questions, 14 of the findings were disputed, 3 were given an explanation and 8 (which do not appear to be criminal) were substantiated by the WCHS. None of the NYCDOE’s findings were against the school’s academic program. The WCHS was placed on probation in September of 2011 and was required to meet 9 conditions of a “Remedial Action Plan” outlined by the NYCDOE. One of the conditions the WCHS had to meet to avoid violating the terms of the Remedial Action Plan was to terminate its contract with the Believe High School Network, who manages the school. The Board of Trustees passed a resolution to sever its ties with the Believe High School Network as of January 31, 2012.
In a meeting called by the WCHS on Monday, the parents and children voiced their displeasure at the possibility of the school being closed at the end of the year and called on elected officials to step in and save the school for the students. Although not much was discussed about the conflict with the NYCDOE for legal reasons, there were many parents who believe that there are many in the NYCDOE, and possibly in the Bloomberg Administration, who believe that their children’s 30-million-dollar high-tech high school (which is equipped with “Smartboards,” “Elevators,” a Varsity Basketball team that made the playoffs and a “Rock-Climbing Wall”) is too good for Black and Hispanic children. The NYCDOE plans to meet with the WCHS on Friday to discuss the issue in more depth. For updates on the ongoing dispute, go to the Williamsburg Charter School’s Web site at: http://www.thewcs.org/