Fight to keep Brooklyn school open

February 24, 2011 2:58:12 PM PST
In the ongoing battle over school closings, a fight is underway in Brooklyn to keep an elementary school open.

Parents blame P.S. 114's former principal and say she is the reason for the poor performance in the past.

"We love our jobs and we don't want to see this happen to our school, that we know can be wonderful again," teacher Ellen Berkowitz said.

Parents lay the blame for the problems at P.S. 114 squarely on the shoulders of its former Principal, Maria Pena-Herrera, who was dismissed from this assignment in 2009.

Parents say they complained for years about Ms. Pena-Herrera. An investigation found that she misused funds on reckless spending.

"They took too long to get rid of her and she ran up a debt, and it just snowballed and now we're on the failing list and it's just not true," parent James Orr said.

Last year's school progress report for P.S. 114 included an overall grade of D. The school environment survey, or how people feel about the school, earned an F. So did student performance. For the previous year, it got an overall B, and while school environment was graded F, student performance earned a "B" that year.

"Once you take everything away, all the support services, it's not surprising that the scores are going to go down," teacher Richard Mantell said.

The parents have New York City Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio on their side.

"They appealed to the people here at the Tweed building - 'help us, fix the problem with us' - and they were ignored," he said.

A vote earlier this month on whether to close P.S. 114 was delayed for authorities to gather more information. The new vote will happen on March first.