Harp Academy students, teachers, parents protest move delays to Colt Street building | Paterson Times

Harp Academy students, teachers, parents protest move delays to Colt Street building


Almost two dozen students, teachers, and parents gathered at Wednesday evening’s school board meeting to protest delays that have hampered Harp Academy’s move from the old Paterson mall to a building on Colt Street.

The district in anticipation of the move packed up supplies and other materials from the school for storage. The school’s staff and students thought the move to the new building would happen sooner; however, when the delay stretched on for more than two weeks they banded together to protest at the school board.

“Now, we’re going into our third week of school and we still have no books, no lockers, the supplies are very minimal, and I can’t do my job,” said Lecia Williamson, a teacher. She said her blood pressure machine which she used to instruct students at the medical arts academy remains in storage unutilized to educate pupils.

“Without any books how will we learn?” said Nusrath Hussian, a senior at the academy. She spoke flanked by about half-dozen of her schoolmates.

Gregory Ray, a parent, said he visited the school after his daughter told him students had to stand up to eat lunch due to lack of tables. “They had to stand up during lunch because they didn’t have enough tables,” said Ray.

Ray visited the principal who did not have papers to write on at the office.

The district provided the school with laptops to use in place of books; however, with poor internet connection that does not appear to be working, said a teacher. He said at times the class would download a book and by the time it finishes only seven minutes remains in class. There’s also patchy connection at the school, said teachers.

Williamson said if the move will not happen anytime soon the district should at least return the supplies that are in storage so that teachers can teach and students can receive instructions. At present several teachers said they were utilizing Youtube videos to instruct their students.

Steve Morlino, the district’s facilities director, said the building may not be prepared until the end of October. He said the elevator must be installed which will arrive from California on October 5th, 2015. And take a week to install. There’s also the internet connection, various inspections of the building, and additional fire escape work.

The school is anticipated for student occupancy by October 30th, 2015, said Morlino.

“If the school is not ready in a month or two our kids are going to be deprived of an education,” said Ray. “And we just don’t know what to do.”

State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans seeing the anger and frustration coming from the teachers, parents, and student said the district will unload the supplies that it has had in storage for the past months.

In fact, there have been reports that after emptying out the old Paterson mall on Main Street, the district in the last week of school had to haul some back in for first day of school. Parents and teachers criticized the district for poor planning.

The district is leasing the old Paterson mall on a monthly basis. It has a $500,000 lease with the Colt Street building.

Some parents, students, and teachers also raised concerns about Yes Academy which will be located at that building. Some Yes Academy students may have had run-ins with the law.

“My mother and some of my friends’ parents are uncomfortable having their children attend a school where students are over-aged and performed public crimes,” said Hussian.

“Some of those students are 19, 20 years old, mixing those two schools I feel is a bad idea,” said Ray.

The district has yet to state whether it intends to separate the two schools.

“Either we’re going to refurnish the mall that they are in or Colt Street will magically open in the next 2 to 3 days. I doubt the latter,” said Evans. He said the academy will also be provided with the needed furniture.

District officials also indicated the school supplies in storage will be brought back and unpacked for use.

“I’m glad to hear that,” said Williamson at Evans’ promise.

  • Chad Cyrus Montague

    That description of the students of YES Academy is wildly inaccurate and ignores the fact that some HARP students have the very backgrounds they proport to be afraid of.

    • maybelline

      Yes has the best teachers ever and YOUR one of them if it wasn't for yes I'll be a low life. Not everyone in yes has a record. The teachers are the best, they actually help u learn and understand. It's not a regular school it's like a family and the teachers are our cool parents I loved it

      • -A

        its *you're not *your

        • Chad Cyrus Montague

          If you're going to correct grammar, start with your own. Your use of quotation marks is incorrect and it's "at" HARP and "at" YES, not "in." (See what I did there?)

          • -A

            Just to clarify, the use of quotation marks were to emphasize certain words. This is called, "Scare quotes". "Scare quotes are used to cast doubt on a word or phrase, or to emphasize that the word or phrase is being used as a euphemism. "

            Secondly, both "in" and "at", could be used to refer to positions within large areas. For example; both, "He is not in his office." and "Let's meet at the bank." are correct.

            I hope that you have no more confusions about how grammar works.


          • Chad Cyrus Montague

            That's a poor use of Google but whatever.

          • Miley Cyrus

            YOOOOO, LMAOOOOO

    • - A

      Wildly inaccurate ? WOW ! I think everyone "already" knows HOW YES students are. No offense, but to be honest, the amount of students that have "this" type of background in HARP academy is nothing close to the amount in YES academy and this is common knowledge. By the way, if you were actually concerned, then you should have been present at the meeting, yesterday.

      • Chad Cyrus Montague

        This shows why you should not speak with out knowing the facts. I have a parent with major health issues and I was dealing with that. Attending that meeting was simply not possible. That situation notwithstanding, if you've never been to YES, visited the students or seen how the staff work, you're
        not qualified to talk about "how YES students are."

        • -A

          Well, looks like you have an alibi for not being in the meeting. What about all the other students, parents and teachers? There was not even a single person from YES Academy. No students, teachers or parents cared enough to attend such an important meeting! I think that speaks enough for YES Academy.

          Plus, nobody needs to be an expert to talk about the environment of YES Academy. Facts are facts. :)

  • Federick Calzoney

    This is petty. A teacher arguing with a student. What maturity is this teacher from YES academy presenting to students? Ridiculous.

  • Nicole Payne

    The description and depiction of YES students is erroneous. Are there students who have challenges…sure, but one would be hard pressed to find a school that does not have students with challenges. I am deeply disturbed by the vitriol that was spewed at the Board Meeting about these students. No one knows who they really are, they are just swept up by the word "alternative" and what they think that means. Over-aged and under-credited doesn't necessarily mean 19…a 16 year old can be over-aged and under-credited…if they have 0 credits. Further, just because they are "alternative" does not mean "criminal".