Scarborough worried over school plans

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The city is mulling the placement of an all-boys public school in Springfield Gardens, a move that has made state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and community members nervous about possible repercussions it could have for students.

The city Panel for Educational Policy was set to vote Feb. 24 on whether to place the Eagle Academy School inside the IS 59 school building, at 132-55 Ridgedale St., starting in the fall. The school would teach 500 adolescent and teenage students from grades 6 through 12 in a separate section of the school, while the IS 59 middle-schoolers would operate as a separate campus inside the building, according to the city Department of Education.

Scarborough said he has received several calls from parents and school officials expressing outrage about the placement. Although Eagle Academy set up successful charters in the Bronx and Brooklyn, Scarborough said there were other, more age-appropriate locations the DOE could have considered in southeast Queens.

“The concern I have is putting high-school kids with middle-school kids, especially with the girls,” he said.

IS 59 has a 600-seat vacancy that would be able to meet Eagle Academy’s needs, according to Scarborough. The assemblyman said representatives from Jamaica High School and Campus Magnet High School informed him the city had initially considered putting the charter inside those campuses, but the administrators to both campuses rejected the proposal and suggested it be placed in IS 59.

The assemblyman said he was puzzled by the DOE’s changing its mind about putting Eagle in the high schools since Jamaica and one of the Campus Magnet schools, the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship Magnet HS, will be phased out in the fall and have enough seats to satisfy 500-seat need.

“What makes it hard for us is that they have a bunch of high school options they can use,” he said.

Philip Banks, president of the New York chapter of 100 Blacks in America, the nonprofit that has set up and maintains Eagle, said he has heard the concerns from the community, but thinks the new campus would be beneficial to southeast Queens students and parents.

Banks, who lives in the area with his family, said Eagle would not infringe on the well-being of the IS 59 students if it gets the approval from the DOE.

“I think their argument is with the DOE. They have an argument against any school joining IS 59,” he said.

The president noted the Bronx Eagle Academy has been successful, with a 73 percent graduation rate two years ago and an 83 percent graduation rate last year.

Representatives from the DOE did not return phone calls for comment by press time Tuesday.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 6:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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