The Panel for Educational Policy on Thursday voted to close or phase-out 23 schools following a heated meeting that attracted an estimated 2,000 people, including protesters from the teachers union and a group affiliated with Occupy Wall Street.
Eighteen of the schools will close completely, while five others will lose their middle school grades.
The schools were all on the chopping block due to poor performance.
Members of the United Federation of Teachers spoke up during the meeting at Brooklyn Technical High School in an effort to disrupt the vote.
"We are here to say going after schools not supporting them, not helping them, labeling them as failures when you have control over the school system for 10 years is unacceptable," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
After rallying outside, the union planned to boycott the panel and hold their own meeting at an alternate site down the street. However, they ended up joining hundreds of protestors organized by an Occupy Wall Street spin-off called Occupy the DOE.
They tried to drown out the panel by using the call-and-repeat chants they call "The People's Mic". But the DOE just turned up the official mic, and for hours, it was a really loud auditorium.
The PEP, which is mostly comprised of members appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has always approved all of the proposals in front of them.
The list of programs on the chopping block Thursday night, viewable at NY1.com/schools, represented the highest number of schools the PEP has ever voted on in a single night.
Many of the estimated 2,000 protesters still believed the votes were a forgone conclusion.
"They give folks the microphone. Parents are crying. Kids are crying. Teachers are crying. And they've come here with their minds made up. They say they be come here for a vote but the real deal is they've made up their minds," said one participant.
Most protesters left within several hours. And because because many of the 125 people signed up to officially speak left the meeting, the votes were cast just after 11 p.m., not in the wee hours of the morning as expected.
Another 33 schools face overhauls. Their fates will be voted on in March or April.