The city’s only Arabic and English language middle school that opened amid a firestorm of controversy is now quietly closing its doors with little fanfare.
Only one parent from the Khalil Gibran International Academy spoke at a Department of Education (DOE) meeting Thursday night at K806 to discuss the proposed grade reconfiguration, re-siting, and co-location of the school.
There were no angry protests or cries of outrage among the roughly 20 attendees. Only one person, Winsome Smith-Ranger, took the opportunity to speak, saying that she wanted to see what the rest of the proposed building looked like. Twenty minutes after the meeting began, the panel adjourned.
Under the proposal, Khalil Gibran would gradually stop serving middle school students in grades 6-8, and instead serve high school students in grades 9-12. The school would also move from school building K287, located at Navy Street and Flushing Avenue, to school K806, on Schermerhorn Street, where it would be co-located with Metropolitan Corporate Academy (which would complete phasing out in June 2014) and the Brooklyn School for Career Development.
"Due to the long standing performance struggles of this school, the DOE believes that Khalil Gibran will be better equipped to serve high school students," said Paymon Rouhanifard, an official with the DOE.
The proposal states that Khalil Gibran would no longer enroll sixth grade students at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, and only serve seventh and eighth grade students during the 2011-2012 school year. Only eighth and ninth grade students would be served during the 2012-2013 school year, allowing for the full phaseout to be complete in June 2013.
The school was founded by Debbie Almontaser and designed to be a middle school and high school, but she resigned before the school’s opening in 2007, after refusing to renounce a t-shirt that read, “Intifada NYC.”
There were no objections made at the meeting to the widely reported issues that have plagued the school since its opening. In addition to struggling with , the school’s most recent report card received failing marks in both student progress and student performance.
The DOE report stated that it was proposing to re-site Khalil Gibran to Downtown because the school is currently co-located in an elementary school building and does not have adequate infrastructure to support a high school population.
However, James Devor, President of the local Community Education Council, said the proposed location for the school is more accessible to a larger percentage of the Arabic community — particularly around Atlantic Avenue.
“I’ve looked at the numbers and this school has significantly changed its population that it intended to serve,” said Devor. “Now that the new location is more optimal to serve the Arabic community, I hope something different would be done, because what’s been done now is an abysmal failure.”
The Panel for Educational Policy vote on the proposal will take place at Prospect Heights Campus on Classon Avenue on April 28th at 6 p.m.