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City announces plans to close or shrink 15 struggling schools

In the first wave of annual closure announcements, the Department of Education has announced plans to shutter or reshape 15 low-performing schools.

The schools include three elementary schools, three middle schools, a secondary school, and five high schools. The department also announced plans to cut off middle grades at three other schools.

Schools that landed on the chopping block today include Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers, where a crediting scandal has erupted in recent weeks; nine schools in Brooklyn; and a handful of schools that opened under the Bloomberg administration.

One school, the Academy of Business and Community Development, would close rather than phase out over time. Its middle and high school students would be dispersed to other schools next year.

Representatives of the department’s Office of Public Affairs informed members of the City Council about closures in their districts this morning. Simultaneously, department officials were delivering the bad news in person at schools.

The 12 schools were culled from 47 whose academic performance landed them on the DOE’s closure shortlist. Officials said they would announce another list of closure plans tomorrow. Last year, the DOE shortlisted 55 low-performing schools and moved to close 26 of them.

In a statement, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said DOE officials had carefully weighed each school’s strengths, weaknesses, and capacity for improvement before finalizing closure plans.

“These are never easy decisions, but when a school has failed to serve its students well year after year – even after receiving additional supports — we have a responsibility to provide students with better options,” he said. “We are already hard at work creating the great new schools that these communities deserve.”

In September, Walcott committed to opening 50 new middle schools in the next two years. Today’s plans would clear space for at least six of them.

But UFT President Michael Mulgrew, whose union has twice sued to stop school closures, said the department had not in fact given the schools all they needed.

“Rather than doing the hard work of helping struggling schools, the DOE tries to close them, making sure that the hardest-to-educate kids end up concentrated in the next school on the closure list,” he said in a statement.

Mulgrew also said UFT lawyers would be scrutinizing how the department handles the closure process.

“If our attorneys find that the DOE is violating state law in this process, we’ll be seeing them in court,” he said.

Over the next two months, the department must hold public hearings at each of the schools on the chopping block. Then the Panel for Educational Policy must vote to approve the closure plans. The panel has never rejected a city proposal.

Here’s the list of schools the department is proposing to phase out:

And here are the three schools where the department is proposing to cut off the middle grades:

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