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Data Suggests Disparities Within Public School Athletic League

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A big part of high school life is rooting for your school teams, but in the city, it appears that students at some high schools have lots more teams to root for than kids at other schools, and there's a disturbing pattern as to which schools have many teams and which don't. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

It's one of the few clear winners in education research - high school competitive sports.

"It makes a difference in the kids' lives, so there's no doubt about it," said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña.

But David Garcia-Rosen, a teacher at International Community High School, says that the one thing standing in the way for many of the city's neediest kids is the city's own Public School Athletic League.

"If you want an inter-scholastic sports team in the New York City Department of Education, you have to ask the PSAL for a team. The process by which you get a team or get denied a team is completely non-transparent. There's no explanation given," Garcia-Rosen said.

After PSAL repeatedly rejected Garcia-Rosen's requests to fund teams at his public high school in the Bronx, he decided to start an alternative league. Although principals had to pay for the teams out of their school budgets, dozens eagerly signed up.

Meanwhile, Garcia-Rosen looked into which schools actually got city-funded PSAL teams.

"It's the same schools over and over again," he said. "It's the schools with the least poverty, with the highest rates of white students, with the lowest rates of English-language learners."

For instance, he said that the 40 high schools with the highest percentage of white students have 630 PSAL teams, while the 40 schools with the lowest percentage of white students have just 142.

Among the high schools with the highest poverty rates, fewer than 12 percent of students have access to 20 or more teams, but at the schools with the least amount of poverty, 72 percent of students have access to 20 or more teams.

"I really felt strongly that good people within the Department of Education, within the Public School Athletic League were going to look at this and do the right thing because it's a no brainer to bring equitable access to sports for everyone," Garcia-Rosen said.

However, he said those conversations went nowhere. Now, City Council members want to know why.

During a hearing Thursday, DOE officials said they're working on it.

"We are in discussions with this group about perhaps making them a subset of the PSAL," said Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.

However, that's currently not in the DOE's budget.

As of now, the Public School Athletic League is scheduled to get $23 million. The other leagues, once again, are set to get zero.

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