September 12, 2008
In the summer of 2007, Muhammed Fakir Shahada was looking for a New York City middle school for his daughter Serena, who was about to enter the sixth grade. After attending a fair for new middle schools that summer, Fakir, who wanted his 12-year-old daughter to learn Arabic, which most of his family speaks, settled on the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), the city’s first dual-language Arabic public school, then located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
many parents “are already pulling our children out of the school or are thinking of not returning next year” and noting that discipline problems among students caused by a poor learning environment “continue to go unaddressed.”
By the end of the school year, Fakir regretted his decision. “I kept telling my kid that [the school year] was going to get better, but it got worse,” he says. A year later, Fakir has pulled his daughter from KGIA, and this September Serena began seventh grade at a different school.
Designed to be a beacon of multiculturalism, KGIA was surrounded by controversy from its inception (see below). Parents, students and educators say that inadequate classroom resources, an unresponsive school administration, lack of support from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and teacher firings pushed the school to the brink of failure. Read more…