A push to expand programs for gifted and talented students into middle schools in a northern Queens district has the support of local elected officials and at least 500 parents who have signed petitions backing the effort.
“We’re tired of getting the run around from [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] and the city,” said Lisa Fusco, a parent from Whitestone who is leading the charge in an appeal that will now go to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.
The program’s fate is decided by each school district’s superintendent. The parents who are signing the petition have children in School District 25, where the program is limited to seven elementary schools. Fusco and the other parents decided to write the letter after meetings with School District 25 Superintendent Di Mango and education officials didn’t produce any results. They expect to send the letter by the end of the week.
District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.
Using the force of 500 signatures, the contingent of parents will be sending a letter to Farina requesting that she support their efforts to expand the gifted and talented program into the district’s middle schools.
Elected officials representing the area have also sent letters to Farina in support of Fusco’s efforts. The list of lawmakers backing the effort includes Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and Assemblyman Ron Kim.
The Department of Education didn’t return requests for comment.
“Providing students with a challenging curriculum to compete in today’s globalized world is extremely important,” Meng wrote in a letter to Farina advocating for the program to be expanded into School District 25. “We must work together to grant all qualified students equal access to G&T programs.”
Meng pointed out that the program is in the middle schools of neighboring school districts 24 and 26. She also advocated for school district 28 to get the expansion.
The gifted and talented program is currently in district 25’s elementary schools but once students get to sixth grade, the program ends. The program is meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education.
“They’re dropping the ball,” Fusco said. “And I don’t know why, but hopefully our letter to the chancellor will help create Gifted and Talented in District 25.”