Dear Chancellor Farina:
I am writing you to express my concern regarding the Department of Education’s recent proposal to consolidate W.E.B. Du Bois High School and Brownsville Academy High School. W.E.B. Du Bois High School, a transfer school enrolls all students seeking a high school diploma regardless
of age, credit accumulation, regent’s exam completion, special education status, or disciplinary history. Located in Crown Heights Brooklyn, school District 17 is also the home of the New York City WEB Center, The Reverend Clarence Norman Recording Studio, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Television Studio. The WEB Center is a digital lounge equipped with Apple desktops,
laptops, and iPads. The recording studio and television production studio are equipped with professional grade music and video production equipment. W.E.B. Du Bois students take CTE courses in music and video production during the day and have the opportunity to take advanced
courses after-school. The WEB Center and Recording studio are open to all New York City High School students after school.
W.E.B. Du Bois High School and Brownsville Academy are the only two transfer high schools located in District 17. However, Brownsville Academy is located on the border of District 23. While we understand the DOE’s intent on consolidating transfer schools and support making all
schools programmatically and fiscally sound, we believe that WEB Du Bois offers at risk students an exceptional educational opportunity that would be diminished if moved to the Brownsville Academy High School. That said, we are recommending that Brownsville Academy High School be consolidated with East Brooklyn Community High School because they are only 0.6 miles away from each other.
There are also 3 other transfer high schools located in District 23. Brooklyn Democracy Academy and Metropolitan Diploma Plus High School are located in the same building and this building is 1.6 miles from Brownsville Academy High School. Eliminating W.E.B. Du Bois High School would
leave students living in or attending schools in and around District 17 with fewer transfer high school options.
We also urge you to review the ways the NYC Department of Education can proactively pursue outreach to students, parents, educators, and community even when contemplating such decisions – and further, pursue inclusion of these stakeholders in the decisions making process itself. Parents and neighborhood residents have expressed their feeling of being blindsided,
shocked, and deeply concerned. We urge a more inclusive process with more communication with stakeholders across our community. While we appreciate the expertise on hand at the Department of Education, community residents want assurances that the Department of Education recognizes the on-the-ground, community expertise available to bring additional insight to bear. We believe everyone benefits from a more open, more inclusive decision-making process.
Thank for your time and consideration.
Letitia James Public Advocate of the City
Jesse Hamilton New York State Senator – District 20
Walter Mosley New York State Assembly Member – District 57
Laurie Cumbo New York City Council Member – District 35