Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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City's First Arab-Language School Set For Changes

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The city is making a big change to a controversial Arabic-themed school in Brooklyn.

The Department of Education says it is changing the Khalil Gibran Academy in Brooklyn from a middle school to a high school.

Under its proposal, the school would stop enrolling sixth grade students at the end of this school year, until it phases out the last class of eighth-grade students in 2013.

According to the DOE, the decision was made based on the fact that the school had difficulty recruiting and maintaining middle school students.

"We have a responsibility to work with the school community of Khalil Gibran to make sure we're providing them the best opportunity to grow and flourish," said Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott. "We don't view it as a failure. We always take a look at how we can make things better and we've been sitting down with the school community to talk about how we can both increase the enrollment and try and provide a building that is more centrally located so they can attract more people to come to the school as well."

Walcott went on to say just like any new school, there were various problems, but wouldn't place blame on anyone – including the school's principal.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on this proposal next month.

In a separate proposal, the DOE also says the school would be moved to another building for the 2012-2013 school year. It would join Metropolitan Corporate Academy High School and the Brooklyn School for Career Development.

Founded in 2007, Khalil Gibran is the first school in the city to focus on Arab language and culture and was initially met with opposition when it was announced.

The school was most notably in the spotlight after Deborah Almontaser, its founding principal, resigned under pressure from the school over criticism that she had a militant Islamic agenda.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in Almontaser's favor, but the DOE maintained it would not reinstate her.

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