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Downtown School Closed Since Sept. 11 Reopens

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TWC News: Downtown School Closed Since Sept. 11 Reopens
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Despite the protests of many parents, a school in Lower Manhattan opened Tuesday morning for the first time since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The building, which is just five blocks from the World Trade Center site, houses two schools, I.S. 89 and P.S. 89. The students in the intermediate school resumed classes Tuesday, and the elementary school is set to resume classes on February 4.



NY1 Education Reporter J.D. LaRock filed this report.

Five blocks from the World Trade Center site, conditions are still far from ideal. But the parents and kids from I.S. 89 don't seem to mind.

Tuesday, the downtown school opened for the first time since September 11. Many families said the students had a rough time being relocated to a school in Chelsea.

"There were problems in the neighborhood, there were a few muggings outside of the school, and also, letting the kids run wild in a neighborhood they're not familiar with was slightly dangerous. We're glad to have them back home," Tom Goodkind, the parent of an I.S. 89 student, said Tuesday.

Fellow parent Lori Zelman added, "We live right across the street, so she might as well go back to school."

"I'm glad to be back in the school," said Zelman's daughter, Katie. "It was strange in that other building because it was really crowded with all the other schools and stuff. I'm glad to be back at school."

Few seemed concerned about air quality in and around the school. The Board of Education says it has cleaned the building thoroughly, and it let parents check it out last Friday.

Schools officials also say they'll perform environmental tests at 80 separate spots around the building every day.

"It's quite clear the building is cleaner than it's ever been, probably cleaner than it was when it was new," Schools Chancellor Harold Levy said this morning.

The school's principal, Ellen Foote, added, "The I.S. 89 community would not have come back if it wasn't reassured the building was safe both inside and out."

But some other parents don't feel reassured. I.S. 89 shares its building with an elementary school, P.S. 89, and Chancellor Levy wants those kids to come back February 4.

However, most parents and teachers are opposed to that plan. They say they're happy at the school they've been relocated to, and they feel the environment downtown is just not safe.

"My son will definitely not be going back February 4," said Susan Wissmann. "We will probably be doing all kinds of other things, with home schooling involved."

According to Chancellor Levy, "This is a matter of trying to persuade people it's safe, it's clean, and it's time, and I really think it is."

So while the folks from I.S. 89 are pretty much happy, the parents from P.S. 89 are another story. They've hired a lawyer, and may sue Chancellor Levy to keep those kids from coming back February 4.

- J.D. LaRock

The Board of Education says hundreds of parents pulled their children out of I.S. 89 after September 11. However, of the students remaining, 99 percent did show for the first day back Tuesday.
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