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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Department of Education says no hearings for G&T programs

By Nikki Dowling
Posted

The New York City Department of Education has proposed policy changes that would allow officials to establish gifted and talented programs in schools without consulting community members, parents or teachers first.

When the DOE proposes “a significant change in school utilization,” usually a closure, collocation or move, it must hold public hearings, go through a comment process, alert the community of changes, do analysis and listen to feedback, according to the department’s A-190 Regulation.

Last year, District 10 Community Education Council President Marvin Shelton urged the DOE to expand their definition of “a significant change in school utilization” to include proposed gifted and talented programs.

Mr. Shelton suggested the change because, he said, new G&T classes can significantly alter a school’s environment. District gifted and talented programs, like the one at PS 24, are made up of several classes located within a general education school. When out-of-zone students attend the program, it changes the school’s demographics considerably, according to Mr. Shelton. Also, because the siblings of gifted and talented students are allowed to attend the school where the program is located, even if they aren’t in the specialized class and are out-of-zone, G&T can be a difficult squeeze for already overcrowded schools.

“Putting in any gifted and talented program — district-wide or citywide — has a bigger impact than they’re letting on to,” Mr. Shelton said of the DOE.

In August, Mr. Shelton got the exact opposite of what he asked for in the new A-190 Regulation.

“A ‘significant change in school utilization’ shall not include changes to school-based programs, changes to zoning lines or the placement/siting of programs such as gifted and talented programs in facilities currently utilized by schools or other programs,” according to the document.

“They can put a [gifted and talented] program wherever they want without having to go through this procedure — a somewhat extensive analysis, distribution of information, public hearings, public commentaries and then a vote.” Mr. Shelton said. “According to this [proposed] procedure … they can stick it wherever they want.”

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