Upper West Side parents have appealed a school rezoning decision, saying the redrawn attendance boundaries won’t fix overcrowding or better integrate schools, as the Department of Education claims.
The ongoing fight over a handful of schools with vastly different student demographics has come to symbolize a dual problem: deep segregation in many of the city’s classrooms and a zoning process that makes it hard, if not impossible, to integrate them.
Advocates for Justice, a public interest law firm, filed the rezoning appeal Friday on behalf of parents at P.S. 199 and P.S. 452.
The appeal argues that open meetings laws were violated during the rezoning process and claims that requests for public documents regarding “conversations between decision makers” have not been answered.
The complaint also takes issue with the data used to develop the rezoning plan, arguing that school zones were “gerrymandered” and that several new buildings were not included in enrollment projections. Additionally, the appeal claims unhappy parents will choose to leave their current schools, creating overcrowding elsewhere.
“The entire process by which CEC 3 went about handling this latest rezoning plan left District 3 parents so angry and demoralized that many, many parents have lost confidence in their elected leaders,” the appeal states.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said the complaint will be reviewed and a response will be issued in accordance with city regulations.
The Community Education Council approved the rezoning on Nov. 22 amid fierce protests from parents who were rezoned from P.S. 199, a high-performing but overcrowded school with a majority of white students, to P.S. 191, where students are mostly black and Hispanic and state test scores are much lower. Parents at P.S. 452 also fought the plan, which moves their school about 16 blocks south.
Attendance zones at P.S. 199 and P.S. 452 were changed to include students from the nearby Amsterdam Houses public housing complex, a move that is meant to more evenly distribute the area’s needy students.
It is up to schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña to decide on the appeal, said Laura Barbieri, an attorney representing the parents. Barbieri doesn’t expect the appeal to be successful, but said it’s a necessary step before potentially heading to court.
This article was first published on Chalkbeat New York on December 7.