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Battles over space feature DOE official with “the worst job”

Harlem is gearing up for round two this evening in a showdown between charter school backers and those who oppose a Department of Education plan to close a traditional public school.

The hearing last week drew supporters of PS 194, a low-performing school that the DOE has said it would like to close to make way for a charter school to expand, and members of Harlem Parents United, a group of parents organized by Eva Moskowitz, the ambitious leader of the Harlem Success network of charter schools. But the DOE scheduled another hearing for tonight after getting complaints that it had not announced last week’s hearing, or the plan, far enough in advance.

As skirmishes like this one take place across the city, few have been criticized more loudly or more often than John White, the DOE official who is in charge of finding space for schools — and delivering the bad news to schools that are being closed or relocated. Others acknowledge that White has been given a tall order, to find homes for a constantly increasing number of schools when the amount of space the DOE controls is not growing at nearly the same rate. At a recent hearing in Greenwich Village, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said White has “the worst job — ever.” Here’s video of Stringer defending White: