Nine pre-K sites closed two days before start of school
Two days before the start of school, New York City officials on Tuesday revoked the operating permits for nine pre-K sites in community-based organizations and delayed the opening of 36 others, a city spokesman said Tuesday.
The sites were closed for a variety of reasons, a de Blasio administration official said, ranging from overly ambitious construction plans that couldn't be finished by the start of school on Thursday, to outstanding health and safety violations. Some programs were closed because the Department of Investigations found issues with the integrity of the program's leadership, the official said.
The decision to close the nine sites was made during at an inter-agency meeting at City Hall, the official said.
About 295 students enrolled at the nine sites are being reassigned to other programs, the administration official said. Of those, 83 students have already been enrolled at other pre-K sites, and the administration has been working since Sunday to find new spots for the remaining displaced students.
In addition to the nine sites that have been closed, the opening of 36 centers was delayed because of construction and minor health and safety issues. The official said many of the programs will open as soon as Monday. Others will take an additional week or two to get cleared for opening, the official said. There are 900 students enrolled at the 36 sites.
The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
Inspectors from a variety of city agencies, including the fire, health and buildings departments, have conducted 6,000 inspections of the city's 1,700 pre-K sites this summer. The F.D.N.Y. and buildings department will conduct about 400 additional inspections this week.
The nine sites that have had their permits revoked are the Child Development Support Corporation in Brooklyn; the Rainbow Afterschool Program in Brooklyn; Birch Family Services Center in Brooklyn; the Manhattan Early Childhood Center; the Queens Early Childhood Center; the Watson Avenue Early Childhood Center in the Bronx; Rainbow Montessori in the Bronx; Alpha Academy in Queens; and the Rising Stars Islamic School in Queens.
Four of the nine centers—the Birch Family Services Center, Manhattan Early Childhood Center, Queens Early Childhood Center and Watson Avenue Early Childhood Center—are affiliated with Birch Family Services, a family services group based in Jamaica, Queens.
The safety of the city's community-based organizations, where 60 percent of the 53,000 pre-K students will be enrolled, has been a consistent concern for the administration.
In May, Capital and the Daily News reported that many of the community-based programs had outstanding health and building code violations. Community programs must comply with hundreds of standards to be deemed up to code.
Last week, Comptroller Scott Stringer questioned the safety of the city's pre-K programs, stating his office found "significant problems" with several pre-K sites and was waiting on hundreds of contracts from the city to review for safety. A spokesman for Stringer declined to comment. The comptroller's office has received 181 pre-K contracts as of Tuesday of the roughly 500 total.
De Blasio and other administration officials indicated late last week that there were some pre-K sites with remaining issues and that some might be delayed or closed before the first day of school.