Students, families and teachers are protesting the Department of Education’s (DOE) plans to relocate an Upper West Side high school to East Harlem, AM New York reports.
The DOE’s proposal involves exchanging Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School with The Young Women’s Leadership School at the beginning of the next school year.
West Side High School – a transfer school designed for students who’ve dropped out or fallen behind – has been at 140 West 102nd Street since 1981. The Young Women’s Leadership School’s Manhattan location can be found at 105 East 106th Street.
The move has sparked safety concerns for students, potential disruption of athletics programs, and a loss of health and wellness resources. A protest to voice these concerns was held outside the Upper West Side school this week.
Opponents argue that students have grown up in the area and have become attached to it – many students live at the nearby Frederick Douglass Houses – and that commuting over a mile will pose safety risks.
One senior at West Side High told AM New York, “Safety is a very big concern,. A lot of kids that go to West Side are from the west side in this specific project. If you’re moving us from our safe zone to a complete polar opposite area where we’re not going to be respected or we’re not going to be safe, what do you think’s gonna happen?”
West Side High School students also rely on certain onsite programs which the proposal anticipates would not be relocating with them.
In early March, Superintendent of Transfer High Schools John Sullivan wrote a letter to West Side High families announcing the proposal and saying it would “benefit Spanish-speaking students who live in the East Harlem area because of new Spanish dual-language programming that West Side High School is in the process of adding,” according to AM New York.
The DOE’s proposal needs to be voted on and approved by the Department of Education’s Panel for Educational Policy, which will meet on April 19; there will be an opportunity for the public to share their thoughts about the move.