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fahari academy charter school
August 21, 2015
Charter school that Fariña moved to close will open Monday amid legal fight
A legal decision on Friday offers some reassurance to families of nearly 400 students who set to start school at Fahari Academy on Monday.
March 17, 2014
Charter school sues over closure decision it hopes de Blasio will overturn
Fahari Academy Charter School, set to close at the end of the year — has filed suit, but only to avoid losing the right to pursue legal action. The school's lawyer said he's confident that Mayor Bill de Blasio's criticism of school closures means that the dispute can be handled out of court.
December 20, 2013
An ex-Fahari teacher on the school’s likely closure
While I am deeply suspicious of efforts to close schools in New York City given the way closures negatively impact surrounding communities, it seems unfair and unjust to allow the level of mismanagement I witnessed at Fahari to remain unchecked.
December 17, 2013
Fahari Academy parents look to de Blasio to keep doors open
Nimia Gutierrez (center), with school staff (left), her daughter and her eighth grade son. Gail Cudjoe had heard about Fahari Academy's struggles. But when her son won a seat in the school's fifth grade lottery, she pulled him from their zoned elementary school to start at the grade 5-8 charter school, believing it would be something better. Four months into the school year, she's pleased with how her son is doing at the school. But the city isn't: In November, officials announced Fahari would be the only school it moved to close this year, despite an awkwardly-timed mayoral transition. For Cudjoe's son and dozens of other fifth graders, the school's closure would mean attending their third school in just over a year. So parents and board members are now trying enlist local elected officials to help change Department of Education officials' minds. "Where are you going to move them to?" Cudjoe asked, standing outside the school's auditorium after a meeting this Saturday with city officials there to answer precisely that question.
November 18, 2013
The city will try to close a low-performing school, Fahari, after all
Fahari Academy Chancellor Dennis Walcott gave an incomplete answer when he said earlier this month that the city would not close any schools this year. In fact, the Department of Education has moved to shutter one school — a charter school that it put on probation last year amid concerns that included sky-high teacher and student attrition. The school, Fahari Academy Charter School, posted the lowest marks of all middle schools on the city progress reports released last week. The department told the school's board last week that it would recommend Fahari's closure. Under charter law, the state Board of Regents must revoke Fahari's charter, after which the it no longer has the legal right to operate. Since the school's charter expires in the middle of the school year — next month — the city is hoping to get state approval to wait until June to shutter the school. The city failed to get the proposal onto the agenda for this week's Regents meeting in Albany, so that leaves December as the last chance for the city to get final approval before Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who opposes school closures, takes over at the Department of Education. In the meantime, officials at the school say they plan to fight back, if necessary in court, a process that has fared well for charter schools targeted for closure by the city in the past.
September 27, 2012
With clock ticking, a charter school tries to turn itself around
Fahari Academy Charter School opened the school year with many new teachers and administrators as part of an effort to improve quickly. Last month, Radha Radkar expressed her excitement for a new year at Fahari Academy Charter School by discussing a task that, for most teachers, is an annual rite. “I’m decorating my own classroom,” said Radkar, a second-year English teacher. For Radkar and her Fahari colleagues, however, it was an unknown luxury. Last year, teachers didn't have their own classroom and had little time to prepare for their lessons. Instead it was teachers who rotated — while students stayed put — a small, but significant component of a broader culture that staff said contributed to the school's demise. Much has changed this year at Fahari as part of a comprehensive attempt to keep the school from closing. On Aug. 27, the Department of Education officially placed it on probation, primarily because of the sky-high teacher and student attrition rates that have plagued the school since it opened in 2009. Radkar said the school was anticipating the probation notice for months and had spent the summer preparing to open with many new programs and policies. Now, they have less than a year to show the school is taking steps to improve. By Monday, the school must submit an improvement plan detailing the changes underway at the school. "We are definitely in the middle of transition," said Radkar, who helped develop new reading and writing curriculum over the summer. "At the same time, our leadership is trying to figure out a direction this year."
April 4, 2012
Hoping to please parents, school introduces real-time polling
The results of the Department of Education's learning environment surveys, due tomorrow, aren't likely to go public until June. But Catina Venning, the executive director of Fahari Academy Charter School, doesn't want to wait. Since the start of the year, she has been polling Fahari's families monthly about their satisfaction and tweaking the school's practice in response. She launched the polls after Fahari scored a B last year on the section of the progress report that counts survey results — the "environment" section. Looking closer, she found the source of the problem: parents had graded the school poorly for communication. “We looked at our survey from last year and the numbers were a little bit lower than they were in our first year and that was not pleasing to us at all,” Venning said. “We want to make sure parents are getting the services they’re signing up for." The new mini-polls' instant feedback has already led to some changes. After only 55 percent of parents reported receiving weekly phone calls from their child's advisors in a fall survey, Venning issued a course correction. Soon, advisors were submitting weekly contact logs to administrators, and parents were receiving not only more frequent reports but also weekly newsletters. The polling is part of a larger outreach push that includes a new director of family engagement and a parent she's brought on staff to work with families after school.
December 22, 2011
Holiday feast in Flatbush unifies a district and charter school
In some shared school buildings, district and charter schools struggle over scarce resources. In Flatbush, they are sharing their bounty. Fahari Academy Charter School and M.S. 246, Walt Whitman Middle School, held a potluck holiday dinner Wednesday in their shared gymnasium. The event, billed as a showcase for the schools' working relationship, comes as the year's fights over new co-locations start to heat up. Fahari and Walt Whitman staff enjoying the food choices at a joint holiday potluck. The walls were spruced up with red drapes, silver tinsel, and strings of lights, and long tables decorated with poinsettias and silver candelabras were set in a semi-circle to encourage mingling between the schools. A deejay kept a holiday playlist going as attendees selected from dozens of buffet options, heaping their plates with jerk chicken, baked ziti, and curried goat. Catina Venning, Fahari’s executive director, and Bently Warrington, Walt Whitman’s principal, said they hope that the respectful relationship they have worked to establish will trickle down to staff and students. While this is the first shared holiday party, the schools have worked together on other initiatives, including a community cleanup last June. The event was planned by a committee made up of two representatives from each school. The vision was a winter wonderland and the responsibilities were split between the schools: Walt Whitman took on most of the cooking and Fahari focused on the decorations. Fahari opened in the M.S. 246 building in 2009. During the co-location's first two years, as Fahari expanded from fifth to sixth grade, the schools experienced some kinks as the two leaders adjusted to each other’s styles and established protocols for divvying up common facilities. Fahari also experienced difficulties of its own, including a D on the city's progress report and concerns about school culture that led to a successful unionization effort by its teachers. “In the beginning, it was difficult, I’m not going to lie,” Venning said.
December 7, 2011
Unusual outcome for Fahari's unionizing teachers: Recognition
Teachers and staff members of Fahari Academy Charter School officially belong to the United Federation of Teachers now. In October, the staff of the two-year-old middle school, which has posted lackluster test scores and struggled to retain teachers, voted to join the union. But before they could become card-carrying members, either the school's board or a state labor relations committee had to sign off on the arrangement. This week, the school's board gave the union effort the go-ahead, hashing out a brief agreement with the UFT that endorses the union as teachers' sole bargaining agent. The outcome wasn't unexpected: When the staff voted to unionize, members of the school's board signaled that they were open to discussing the teachers’ desire to organize. Today, the board's director, Dirk Tillotson, told me that the board saw that the teachers had met the requirements for unionization and that the most prudent path forward included recognition. Tillotson is a lawyer who runs a charter school incubation program for the state's charter schools association. "We could have dragged it out in the way that many of these other campaigns had been dragged out," Tillotson said. "We’d rather to move past the fight about unionization and make it about student achievement. ... Looking at student progress on the report card, we didn’t do well. I don’t think anyone can be happy if we have another year like that."
October 5, 2011
Teachers at a young Brooklyn charter school vote to unionize
Yet another charter school is on the path to unionization after a majority of its teachers voted to seek representation from the United Federation of Teachers. Teachers at Fahari Academy Charter School, a third-year school in Crown Heights that currently serves fifth through seventh grades, announced the vote in a press release today. They said they hoped the decision would "help foster a positive school culture." “The union is vital for Fahari,” teacher Jeffrey Embleton said in the release. “Having union recognition will give us the voice we need to best serve our students.” Fahari had its charter authorized by the Department of Education in 2008 and opened its doors in 2009. In its inaugural report card, released last month, the school received a D, including an F on the student progress component. In April, the New York Post reported that the school was trying to expel a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for offenses such as name-calling and roughhousing. The staff notified the school’s executive director, Catina Venning, of their vote in a letter today. At the same time, the UFT has begun the legal process that will allow the union to negotiate as a third-party bargaining unit for a contract for Fahari teachers.
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