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To protest school closure, students fill officials' voicemail boxes

Students at the Legacy School for Integrated Studies took to the phones this afternoon in the latest phase of a desperate effort to save their school.

About two dozen students, parents and administrators spread out across the cafeteria of the Union Square high school to barrage officials with phone calls protesting the city’s plan to close the school.

A list of of 75 targets ranged from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to midlevel officials at the city Department of Education. Some people received as many as 20 calls, according to students who organized the event, which they called “Occupy Their Ears.”

The Panel for Educational Policy, which has never rejected a city proposal, is set to vote on closure plans for Legacy and 18 other schools next month. Until then, Legacy students and Coalition for Educational Justice activists say they will lobby the city to give the low-performing school more time to improve.

Some students said they also plan to go to Rockefeller Center early each morning next week with the hope that their “Save Legacy” signs will be featured on air during “The Today Show.”

April Pichardo, a junior who helped organized the phone bank, said the school’s new principal, Joan Mosely, is making positive changes at the school, which has suffered from administrative problems in recent years.

“The school doesn’t have any problems within itself,” she said. “We want the school to stay open. This is a time that we all support each other. The entire month of January we’re going to go to meetings to stop this because it’s really wrong what’s going on.”

As the students called officials, they used charts posted on the cafeteria walls to keep track of who responded and who did not. Though most calls went to a voice answering machine, Pichardo said several students spoke to elected officials and PEP members and reported that responses had ranged from encouragement to frustration over the repeated phone calls.

When people on the other end of the phone would listen, the students argued that Legacy is suffering from a lack of resources and that shutting the school does a disservice to the students.

Mosely “has done a lot, and she has changed the school. To take that away, that’s craziness,” said Harry Rivas, a ninth-grader. “We’re failing, yeah, but so is New York City.”

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