Last month, a panel voted to close 24 under-performing schools and open new schools in their place, but with mostly new teachers.
The unions say Mayor Michael Bloomberg is using the closings to get rid of teachers and administrators without going through the proper process.
The meeting leading up to the vote was packed with a fury and disgust that never ebbed.
"It is you who are failing tonight and it's the mayor who has failed for the past 10 years," City Councilman Jumaane Williams said.
Among the speakers was 17 year old Lehman High School student Melvin Hydleburg.
"We are simply your lab rats," Hydleburg said. "You are experimenting with our education."
Parents, teachers and students denounced the closures at the meeting, which lasted more than five hours. One woman accused the panel of using the shutdowns to break the teachers union.
"This is union busting, pure and simple," teacher Megan Behrent said. "And in the process, it is the students who will get left behind."
Walcott says that's not it at all.
"All of this is about making sure our students get a high-quality education," he said. "And taking a look at the closing and making sure the schools benefit in the long run."
Here is the full list of schools that are closing:
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