Students outside PS 84 on Friday. Photo by Ernie Fritz.
By Ernie Fritz
A popular and low-cost after-school program run out of PS84 on West 92nd street was suddenly shut down on Wednesday following an “incident” the previous week, leaving approximately 145 students without after-school services. The program, LACASA, which was founded in 1993, was run under the umbrella of the Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Project (SBNC) and was open to grades K through 5. It offered a wide array of activities, from soccer to cooking.
According to Kalley Williams, Executive Director of the SBNC, “the Site Coordinator at the school was greeted at the door on Tuesday by a young girl who handed her a letter on behalf of the principal that informed them that they would be shut down the following day.” No reason was given. In further communications with parents from the school, it was explained that they [LACASA] lacked a permit to operate an after-school program at that site and thus they would be shut down the following day. According to Williams, “This was something that the school always took care of in the past, so we didn’t even realize that they had not permitted it”
This all follows an “incident” which occurred the previous Thursday in which a staff member allegedly was involved in an “inappropriate, dumb, stupid game” according to Williams. “It was not sexual in nature,” she added, but nonetheless, was reported to the NYPD by a parent, who in turn, brought it to the attention of the school. “The school acted very quickly and notified us immediately and we fired the staff member immediately,” said Williams. According to an unnamed parent with children in the program, “We were told that ‘a child was at risk’” but she was not aware of what the “incident” was, or what was involved. Nonetheless, she felt that her children “were generally well taken care of,” and that the closing has left her in a major bind.
“If we made a mistake, we will own up to it” continued Williams, “but I feel we have been treated unfairly … we belong there”
Repeated calls to the principal of the school, Evelyn Lolis Ed.D., went unanswered, however a spokesperson for the DOE confirmed that the LACASA lacked the necessary permits to operate in the building, and that was the reason the program was closed. He also stated that, in the meantime, teachers would be able to provide after-school and enrichment services until another solution can be found, or perhaps necessary permits can be had.
PS84 is a well regarded dual-language school with a mostly Hispanic student population. According to a recent survey on insideschools.org, 97% of teachers agree that “the principal has a clear vision for the school.”
The Strycker’s Bay Neighborhood Project, founded in 1959, is also partnered with the DOME Project, The Commons, and the Young People’s Project, and stated mission is to provide needed services to low and moderate-income families of the Upper West Side and “play an integral role in breaking the cycle of poverty and welfare dependency.” LACASA offered a sliding scale of charges depending on income.
Seems like it is within the realms of normalcy. Hopefully the situation will be reviewed, taken care of and the organization obtain the proper license.
A little more questionable is the articles description of PS 84 as a having mostly Hispanic population when (A) That’s not accurate as it’s actually one of the most diverse and balanced schools in Manhattan with a large French and U.K. expat, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian (American) population and (B) it’s irrelevant to the story (or really anything) what the school’s ethnic make-up is
This has happened before. When there’s a problem with the behavior of an adult, why isn’t the adult just removed from the situation, still allowing for the children to attend their after-school program? As for the permit, very odd timing considering the school year is about to end, and someone just realized that there’s been no permit.
We’re the NYC Department of Education, and our motto is “We’re not happy until you’re not happy”
Was this an instance of the “choking game”? That’s a serious issue.
However, the permit issue seems nebulous.
I went to P.S.84 in the late 60’s, early 70’s. It was a mixture of income levels and races! Very diverse! Now there is more segregation than ever with most schools separated by income levels! Terrible!
Obviously, you either did NOT read or chose to ignore the first comment,that PS 84 has “… a large French and U.K. expat, Hispanic, African American and Caucasian (American) population.”
And as for your “Now there is more segregation than ever with most schools separated by income levels! Terrible!”:
1). Sure…sacrifice a child’s future by sending him/her to a poorly-performing school just to prove that YOU will not be like all the other “racist” parents paying exorbitant rents/mortgages/maintenance to live in the zone of a high-performing school.
2). OR, advocate for forced-busing of children to break up the “racist zoning”…and watch the middle-class flee to the suburbs or enroll in private schools, thus making city schools perform even worse.
I went to public school, most kids did back then – it was great, a mix of kids from every background, including economic. Then again, public education was good back then too, very solid
It is not the school’s responsibility to garner appropriate permits for an after-school program, it’s the program management’s responsibility. Each after school program has its own management and is not the responsibility of PS84 administration. Teachers and administration have gone above and beyond to help out at the 11th hour. Teacher’s and administration are volunteering their personal time to care for the children – time away from their own families after-school to help out. That’s an amazing school community.