In the bustle of Thursday’s surprising New York City education news, one change that affects hundreds of city families went under the radar.
The city education department withdrew a proposal to close a struggling Manhattan high school, the High School for Health Careers and Sciences, after community members and the department’s oversight board pushed back.
Early Thursday morning, the Panel for Educational Policy, the city’s appointed school board, blocked two closures and unanimously voted to postpone a decision on Health Careers. The votes were an unusual show of defiance for the panel, whose members are mostly appointed by the mayor and often act as a rubber stamp for city proposals. (The board also signed off on 10 closures.)
Later on Thursday, the department decided not to close Health Careers at all. Instead, the Washington Heights school will remain open and will accept students for the 2018-19 school year. Like the two other schools whose closures were blocked, it will also continue to be part of the department’s Renewal program, a $582 million program that infuses schools with social services and academic support.
“We will work closely with Superintendent [Manuel] Ramirez’s office to provide the community with additional resources including hands-on support from their director of school renewal, instructional coaching, and targeted graduation support, to ensure the school makes the necessary progress,” department spokesman Michael Aciman said in a statement.
The department’s decision to keep Health Careers open follows protest from advocates, families, and city lawmakers who said the school outperformed other schools in the Renewal program on certain metrics. The department cited “extensive community feedback” as a reason it will keep the school open — the same rationale that officials offered when they yanked a different school off the closure list weeks before the panel vote.
Whether Health Careers can continue to marshal the same support over time is an open question. The department’s closure proposal came as eighth-graders were ranking their high school choices and might have steered students away — which could make it harder for the school to show gains in the future.