Press Release: April 8, 2008

COMMUNITIES IN SUPPORT OF KHALIL GIBRAN INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY JOIN COUNCIL WOMAN LETICIA JAMES IN CALLING FOR MORE COMMUNITY INVOLMENT IN THE DECISION TO MOVE DUAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL

KGIA Parents Also Express Concern about Ongoing Instability in the School

New York, NY April 8, 2008, Today, in the wake of criticism by City Council members about the Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to move the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) into PS 287 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, a community coalition and parents of students at KGIA echoed Council member Leticia James concerns. Communities in Support of Khalil Gibran International Academy (CSKGIA) say the DOE’s lack of consideration for community input and involvement is part of an overall pattern of neglect.

CISKIGA and the parents released the following statement:

As community members and parents, we share the concerns of City Council member James.  We believe that moving KGIA to this location would be another blow to the school’s stability. As parents we are troubled that we were not consulted in the decision making process to move the school, and that our concerns have not been taken into account.  However, we also believe that this reflects a pattern of neglect that dates back to the forced resignation of KGIA’s founding principal Debbie Almontaser and the Department of Education’s continued undermining of the schools mission.

The school, as it was  envisioned and designed by the school’s design team, under the leadership of Ms. Almontaser, who has deep roots in the community and connections to cultural institutions across the city, was meant to be a multicultural oasis of community and learning.

Since Ms. Almontaser’s forced resignation, the school has suffered. The school is supposed to be a place where parents are encouraged to be actively involved in the school, yet parents are not allowed in or near the classrooms and don’t feel welcome in the school. It was meant to be a place where students receive intensive Arabic instruction enabling them to graduate as bilingual speakers, yet this not the case; KGIA students receive no more language instruction than students at schools without dual language curricula. Special needs students are supposed to receive appropriate instruction, yet they have gone much of the school year without proper resources to meet their educational needs.

It is our belief that KGIA is not only being denied the support and resources needed to fulfill its mission, but worse, it is being denied the support and resources critical for it to be a quality school of any kind.

As a community, we are calling on the DOE to show their full support for the students, teachers and parents of KGIA by standing up for the school and providing it with the leadership and resources it needs to be successful.

“One of the reasons I sent my child to KGIA is because I wanted her to go to a school where parents had a voice,” said Muhammed Shahadat, a parent of a student at KGIA. “Before the school opened,  we were told that parents would be welcome to visit their children’s classrooms;  however, parents are not invited into classrooms and do not feel welcome in the school by the current leadership.”

“I don’t want the school to move because it will be difficult for our children to come and go but, whether it moves or not, the school has fundamental problems that need to be fixed so that my child can get the best education possible,” said Pomposa Pena, parent of a student at KGIA and PTA president.

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