Supporters of P.S. 161 Ask for More Time

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Holding their signs high, Brooklyn parents, students and teachers gathered in front of Public School 161 the Crown on Wednesday afternoon to shout, "Hands off my school!"

P.S. 161, a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Crown Heights, is on the Department of Education's list of 20 struggling elementary and middle schools.

The Department of Education gave it a D on its most recent progress report. The school received an A only two years earlier.

Education officials are now considering phasing out the middle school grades and possibly housing a new district or charter middle school in the same building.

The school's supporters said they just needed more time to improve.

"We have a new principal, and we believe that he can turn the school around," said Ronald Rivette, a science teacher and the chairman of the School Leadership Team.

Mr. Rivette said school leaders wanted a chance to implement a newly devised action plan, which includes increased staff development, more technology in the classroom and a revised curriculum that better matches the needs of the student population.

Councilwoman Letitia James, whose district covers Crown Heights, attended the rally and promised a fight to keep the school open — with legal action, if necessary. Ms. James said she had conversations with the Department of Education daily and was hopeful about keeping the school open.

Education officials said they had not made any decisions to close struggling schools, and they were taking this time to learn what is working in struggling schools and what is not.