Hardy Plumbing
April 19, 2006

Was Protest Off The Mark?



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Independent / Jan Marie Mackin Several parents from a public school in New York City gathered at the entrance of the Ross School in East Hampton on Monday to protest against the Ross's charter school from possibly using their school building as an incubation space in the fall. (click for larger version)
The Ross Institute will be starting a charter school in New York City in the fall, and many suspect its starter home will be the New Explorations in Science, Technology and Math (NEST+m) on the Lower East Side.

While Ross representatives claim they have no say over what school the charter will begin its incubation period in, NEST parents are determined to let Ross know there is no space in their building for another school.

Early Monday morning, members of the parent teacher association protested on the corner of Goodfriend Drive and Route 114 in East Hampton, holding up signs to Ross administration and parents dropping their kids off at school, causing traffic jams on the normally open road.

"There's just not enough room for two schools in one. We presently have a lower school, a middle school, and an upper school grade . . . all in one building, sharing one cafeteria, one auditorium, one gymnasium," said John Harty, a NEST parent. "I don't know how they could possibly think that they can put six schools, because Ross will also have a lower school, a middle school, and an upper school.

The New York City Department of Education is considering dedicating part of the NEST building to the Ross Global Academy Charter School.

"Ross is not involved in the decision regarding the space," said the school's spokeswoman Diana Aceti. "We have no choice where we're going to go. I think that NEST doesn't understand that it's the DOE who makes that kind of decision."

"Ross's response has been that 'it's not our decision, it's the DOE's decision,' and we're appealing to them as parents to actually admit that you can't hide behind 'it's their decision.' They need to take accountability," parent David Blackshire said at the protest.

The Academy will be working with New York University's Steinhardt School of Education. NYU will provide tutors and student teachers, tuition vouchers for the academy's faculty, access to the university's library, support for the early-to-college program, and student interns.

"The NEST community is taking their protest to the wrong place," said Aceti. "[The Ross Academy] did not request space in the NEST+m building. Ross had requested a location on the Lower East Side," because of the school's collaboration with NYU.

NEST's projected enrollment for the fall is 1050, but Gasco said the DOE capped the school's enrollment at 899 students.

The Ross charter school intends to enroll 180 students for Kindergarten and grades one, five and six in September, and has a projected enrollment of 500 students by the fall of 2009.

The final decision of where to place the charter school will be made in May, DOE officials said.

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