Streams

Alternative School to Be Housed in Teachers' Union Building

Tuesday, September 06, 2011 - 02:30 PM

New York City public school students who are suspended for infractions this year will now have a new alternative school: in the headquarters of the teachers' union.

The United Federation of Teachers is leasing space in its Lower Manhattan building to the city for a new alternative learning center, which can accommodate up to 70 students.

Michael Mulgrew, the president of the union, said the center would serve students who received a superintendent's suspension, typically for 30 or 60 days, and needed to attend class in a separate site with special services.

"Hopefully, between the counseling that they're going to receive, and maybe being in a building where they see professionals working every day, that to me will give them probably a better chance," he said.

A spokesman for the Education Department said the agency had 38 suspension centers around the city. They house students who have been suspended for five days or more, with some students taught in a long-term center for an entire school year. Some centers are in schools; others are in rented spaces.

The union said the city was paying roughly market rate for 10,000 square feet on its fifth floor, with five classrooms and a space for a lunchroom and gym. The total cost is $450,000, including heat, air-conditioning and cleaning. The department will provide school security.

The union has several nonprofit tenants in its conjoined buildings at 50 and 52 Broadway, including the Y.W.C.A., the A.F.L.-C.I.O. 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. Mr. Mulgrew said the union also rented space to a GED program.

"It's not new to us," Mr. Mulgrew 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."

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