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Schools chancellor addresses PS 120 carnival incident in Flushing

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Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña had some harsh words at a roundtable discussion last week for former PS 120 Principal Joan Monroe, who was reassigned after she banned students who did not pay a required fee to attend a Flushing school carnival.

Speaking at a community and ethnic media roundtable at Tweed Courthouse at 52 Chambers St. in Manhattan, she said her “personal and professional belief” is that fund-raising should not take place during the school day and that kids could receive tickets for fund-raising activities outside school hours.

“How could you have had anything where students are looking right through a glass window to something that’s not available to them?” she said last Friday morning.

Nearly 100 low-income students whose parents did not pay a $10 admission fee for the carnival, which took place outside on school grounds, were forced to sit in the auditorium of the school, located at 58-01 136th St.

Monroe was reassigned to administrative duties and replaced by Francine Marsaggi, the school’s assistant principal, who will be the interim principal. Monroe refuted claims she banned students in a letter to students’ families.

Elizabeth Rose, deputy chancellor for the Division of Operations, said the department is working to find new sites for overcrowded schools, noting that it is building an addition to PS 303 to make more seats available to PS 144 and PS 196 students in Forest Hills.

“In terms of overcrowding, Queens certainly has many problems where we have significant overcrowding. We are searching for new sites to build new facilities,” Rose said.

Fariña also addressed concerns about an official school holiday for Lunar New Year, noting that the holiday continued to be in the works.

But she and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning that Lunar New Year would become an official school holiday beginning in February 2016.

In March, the city announced that Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha would become official school holiday starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

Last fall, the DOE enrolled 53,000 children in full day pre-kindergarten, according to Josh Wallack, deputy chancellor of strategy and policy.

Earlier this month, the city offered seats to 70,000 families, he said. The second round of enrollment started Monday and will end July 10.

The department, in particular, is offering more support to the 94 schools that are part of the School Renewal Program, which seeks to transform struggling schools. She said they are planning to use assessment tools to determine what the schools need and are lacking as well as the type of professional development they need.

The schools will also each have a community-based program that would explore issues beyond academics and instill in parents the importance of attending school

“Our approach is to give them support,” Fariña said.

Fariña also fielded questions about diversity of teachers and books in schools, translation services and summer meals for students.

She also said that thanks to the Common Core, social studies has become less fact-driven, emphasizing the importance of bringing in novels and picture books to discussions.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 12:00 am, June 29, 2015
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