Beth Fertig is the contributing editor for education, covering the New York City public school system for WNYC on air and online at SchoolBook.org. She has covered education in the city for more than 15 years. Beth is the author of Why cant u teach me 2 read? Three Students and a Mayor Put Our Schools to the Test (FSG Books) which grew out of a radio series on the low graduation rate for special education students. Follow her @bethfertig.
Teachers Union Headquarters to House Suspended Students
Monday, September 05, 2011
City students who get suspended for infractions this coming year will now have a new alternative school — in the headquarters of the teacher's union.
The United Federation of Teachers is leasing space in its Lower Manhattan building to the city for a new alternative learning center. The site can serve up to 70 students. Union President Michael Mulgrew said it will be used for students who have received a superintendent's suspension for typically 30 or 60 days, and who need to attend class in a separate site with special services.
"Hopefully between the counseling that they're going to receive," he said, "and maybe being in a building where they see professionals working every day, that to me will give them probably a better chance."
A Department of Education spokesman said the agency has 38 suspension centers around the city. They house students who have been suspended for five days or more, with some taking them for an entire school year. Some centers are located in schools and others are in rented locations.
The United Federation of Teachers said the city is paying roughly market rate for 10,000 square feet on its 5th floor, with five classrooms and a lunchroom-gym space. The total cost is $450,000 including heat, air conditioning and cleaning. The Department of Education will provide school security.
The union has several non-profit tenants in its conjoined buildings at 50 and 52 Broadway, including the YWCA, the AFL-CIO and the National Association of Social Workers. The union leased the same fifth floor office space to the city last year when a Manhattan high school needed a temporary home. Mulgrew said the union also rented space to a GED program.
"It's not new to us," he said, of the suspension center. "And we'll always look at them with a little bit more of a sympathetic eye because we're the teachers union."