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East Harlem Families Ponder Options Now That Struggling Local School Is Closing

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East Harlem parents and students learned early Tuesday that the June closure of M.S. 45, a neighborhood school, was approved overnight by the Panel for Educational Policy, and families wondered where their children would attend classes next year. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.

As parents dropped off their kids at M.S. 45/Stars Prep Academy in East Harlem on Tuesday morning, they were thinking about how the school's closure in June will disrupt their lives.

"After this year, I don't know where she's going to end up," said Angel Fuentes, the parent of an M.S. 45 student. "We'll have to start the process again. Right now she's fine, but only until the end of the year. After that, I just don't know."

Teachers, parents and students typically pack meetings like the one in Brooklyn Technical High School on Monday night, hoping to save their schools in the 11th hour. But with the Panel for Educational Policy stacked with Bloomberg appointees, some felt the fight is futile.

"They're not listening to us. They're not giving us no type of advice, they're just closing down the schools no matter what we say," said a student who attended Monday's meeting.

In the four years since the PEP began voting on school closures, recommended by the Department Of Education, the panel has approved every one.

This year was no different. The panel voted to close two schools at the end of the school year, M.S. 45 and the Freedom Academy High School in Brooklyn. Another 20 schools will be phased out, meaning no additional students will be enrolled and the school will ultimately be replaced.

At least one parent, Christine Karasoulas, said closing M.S. 45 could open up better opportunities for her daughter.

"My daughter comes home with no homework, no homework. How does a seventh grader, I don't see any homework at all," she said. "Maybe that's one of the reasons why the school is closing."

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told reporters Monday that the closures are meant to improve education.

"We have a track record of showing schools that replaced those schools that are phased out, have for the most part done better and we want to continue that track record," Walcott said.

DOE officials plan to open dozens of new district and charter schools in September to replace those that are closing.

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