Students, parents furious at sudden Long Island school closure

RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- Students and parents of students at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead are furious that the Diocese of Rockville Centre notified them only a few days ago that the school would be closing in June.

"We are all so destroyed and broken," junior Alyssa Pavuk said. "It feels like our home is being taken from us."

The diocese sent out an email to the school community Monday afternoon.

"We were blindsided," parent Donna Stumbo said. "The church had no faith in the parents. If they had given us an opportunity, we could have maybe fund-raised. We could have maybe gotten donations, asked alumni. We could have tried, and we would have tried anything to keep this school open."

According to the diocese, the school has a total enrollment of 365 students in grades 7 to 12 and 312 students in grades 9 to 12. But it has registered only 55 students for the incoming freshman class of September 2018.

From 2007 through the 2016-2017 school year, diocesan entities provided subsidies of $16.3 million to the school and are expected to provide an additional $2.3 million of support in the current school year, according to the diocese.

"We recognize the pain and disruption that this decision causes for our beloved school families," said Bishop John Barres, of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. "It is a decision that is heartbreaking to our students, their parents and families, our dedicated faculty, administrators and staff, and of course our parishes that are impacted. We will be supporting our students and families, and our employees, throughout this transition with spiritual and pastoral care, as well as the practical and timely information that is needed through consistent and ongoing communication."

The diocese said it will offer transportation and financial help for students to attend St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, 42 miles from the McGann-Mercy campus.

"We're ready to graduate together," junior Molly Howard said. "We were ready to see each other in the gowns and say what we had to say to all the people who have helped us grow. And now, they're going to take that away from us. And no, I don't want that."

The parents are planning a meeting Sunday night to discuss their options, including legal options.

Two other schools are being consolidated, including Our Lady of Mercy Regional School in Cutchogue and St. Isidore School in Riverhead. They will be combined into a new nursery-through-grade 8 school on the St. Isidore site. The new school will be named St. John Paul II Regional School and will open in September 2018.

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