City turns around: Turnaround high schools to open with no changes

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Three months after being voted to close, seven Turnaround Queens high schools will open in September as if nothing ever happened, with no changes in place.

On April 26, the Panel for Educational Policy approved the city’s plan to close the Turnaround schools and reopen them under new names with up to half the staff replaced. By instituting the Turnaround model the city was eligible to apply for up to $60 million in School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding from the state.

The Turnaround plan began to unravel when an arbitrator ruled near the end of June that the teacher firings violated the educators’ union contract, thereby negating the city’s ability to receive the SIG funds. The arbitrator’s ruling was upheld in State Supreme Court last week, assuring all teachers would keep their jobs and return to the classroom.

The final piece turning back the Turnaround took place on July 31, when the city emailed previous principals of the 24 schools throughout the city instructing them on steps to take to reopen the institutions under their original names.

The city still plans to appeal the ruling, but has now turned its attention to “a smooth school opening,” the letter states.

Principals were notified to compare their current staff against their staff at the end of the school year to identify any positions that need filling. Some teachers at the Turnaround schools accepted positions elsewhere while the plan was in limbo. The schools have a little over a month to make sure classrooms are fully staffed. School begins on September 6.

Parents with children at the schools will receive an update in the coming days, the letter says.