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Without home Maspeth HS woos students

About 70 students and parents listened to a speech last week by the proposed principal of a Maspeth high school that will soon begin enrolling students for next year — even while it has no building in which to teach them.

Fliers at the Feb. 16 session read “Maspeth High School @ Metropolitan Avenue Campus,” referring to a proposal by the city Department of Education to temporarily house the school at Q686 in Forest Hills.

But the fliers are about two weeks premature since that proposal has not been approved and will not be voted on until March 1.

This catch did not seem to bother Khurshid Abdul-Mutakabbir, the high school’s proposed principal, as he explained the curriculum to the crowded room.

But parents at Q686 Metropolitan Avenue Campus, at 91-30 Metropolitan Ave., do not want the Maspeth ninth-graders — the only grade out of four that would be temporarily housed in Forest Hills — to be relocated alongside the three schools that already use the building.

At another meeting Feb. 9, many parents angrily denounced the DOE’s plan, citing broken promises to allow Metropolitan High School and Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning Center to gradually phase in students one grade at a time.

Parents and city officials, including City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and state Assemblymen Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven), blasted the DOE for what they perceived as vague language suggesting the relocation could continue past a year and potentially overcrowd the Metropolitan Campus. The politicians even sent a letter to city Schools Chancellor Cathleen Black demanding the language be taken out of the proposal.

But Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has interests on both sides of the debate.

Students from her constituency would attend both the Metropolitan Campus and Maspeth High School in the overcrowded District 24., In addition, her son goes to Metropolitan High School, one of the three schools currently located in Q686.

Crowley also signed the letter to Black but proposed another school where she believed the relocation would be better suited.

Maspeth middle school IS 119, at 74-01 78th Ave., is underused, according to Crowley, and would have the space to accommodate the ninth-grade class of the Maspeth high school, which the DOE estimates will be 250 students.

The elementary schools that surround the middle school were originally designed to house grades k-5. However, those schools currently serve grades 6-8 as well, which means less kids go to IS 119. That could mean extra room for the wandering class of Maspeth students.

The middle school also already houses students of a similar age, Crowley added, which was a concern for many parents whose children attend school in the Q686 building who did not want sixth-grade students attending school with eighth-graders from a different district with no emotional investment in the school.

So far, the DOE has not been receptive to Crowley’s plan and dismissed the idea of housing the school at IS 73.

“It appears that the DOE does what they want to do. My frustration is with them and again I want something that is best for my community,” Crowley said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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