Parents oppose relocation of Paterson special needs high school | Paterson Times

Parents oppose relocation of Paterson special needs high school


A plan to relocate the school district’s special needs high school is being met with protests. More than a dozen parents and students opposed superintendent Eileen Shafer’s administration’s plan to move Stars Academy from a quiet and leafy Eastside neighborhood to noisy and badly congested downtown Paterson on Monday night.

Parents said the move will negatively impact the education of their children, many of whom suffer from developmental disabilities, including autism, down syndrome, and epilepsy. Some said the facility at the Silk City Academy site on Ellison Street is inadequate because it lacks an outdoor play area, gymnasium, and an auditorium.

“They need to be in a place where they can open their minds. They already have enough limitations,” said Francis Classen, whose son Kelvin Perez, a 12th grader, attends Stars Academy. She said the building has tiny classrooms, poor ventilation, and sewer problems. “You just want to throw them over there in the garbage.”

Classen’s son suffers from seizures and she is particularly worried about congestion in downtown Paterson.

“If he suffers a seizure in school, how long will it take for an ambulance to get there?” asked Classen.

A second mother said her son suffers from autism and noise negatively affects him. She said there’s a lot of noise in downtown Paterson.

“This is the worst place you could have chosen for these kids,” said Lorena Sanchez, whose son attends Stars Academy.

The superintendent tried to calm the parents by stating a final decision has yet to be made.

“No decision has been made. Nothing is a done deal,” said Shafer. She said the district will hold a second meeting with parents of the school’s approximately 100 students on Jun. 10 at 5 p.m. to decide whether to move ahead with the plan.

Classen said at the first meeting parents were told the move was a “done deal” because the district could no longer afford to pay rent for the building. Shafer’s words immediately led to the parents pointing their fingers at some of her cabinet members, who had told them the move will take place.

Shafer tried to address many of the concerns raised by the angry and upset parents at the board meeting. She said the district is working on an arrangement to use the Passaic County Community College auditorium. The district is upgrading the Silk City Academy ventilation system. The sewer problem at the building has been addressed, she told the parents.

The district is looking to secure a playground behind the school for the students, she said. She also said a drop-off and pick-up space will be created away from Ellison Street.

“We’re certainly not throwing the kids to the garbage,” said Shafer.

The district leases the Stars Academy building from the Archdiocese of Paterson for $250,000 a year. The lease expires on Jun. 30, 2019, according to district records.

The Silk City Academy building will be vacant after the school is combined with Great Falls Academy. The unified school will be housed at the old School 11 building on Market Street.

Some of the parents implored the school board to intervene to stop the relocation.

Email: [email protected]

  • MarquinhoGaucho

    All to pay for the charters…Parents you can thank the corrupt BOE for the district's fiscal problems. They voted to expand the charters knowing full well the detriment to the rest of the population.

    • bigron

      Schafer is the problem. Look at she pulled. Staff says its moving she says no done deal. One of them is not telling the truth.

      • MarquinhoGaucho

        Again if it wasnt the cancerous charters causing the fiscal mess, this move wouldnt even be considered. Look at Clifton, no charters no fiscal mess…they said "hell no we wont pay" and did the state take them over? NO. JUst a lame ass excuse "Clueless" castillo put forth

  • http://www.facebook.com/animalabusewar Animal Abuse War

    So if this school is so horrible,according to staff and authorities, why was it chosen in the first place? Why was it great then and not ok now? I agree with the parents, leave the kids where the parents think it's best. And yes,traffic is so bad,an ambulance WON'T be able to get to a place downtown if a child needs medical attention asap. Then what? you will just tell the parents,"sorry"?
    Paterson owns so many properties, I am sure there's one in that area you can use if you really want to expand with a playground, etc.
    -knowing Paterson, this is just another move to corruptly profit in some way.. Let's build a school that costs $5 million, but we will get our crooked contractors to say it cost $10 million,and we split and pocket the profits.
    Paterson's m.o.
    -God is watching

  • lanaleka

    So sad!

  • lanaleka

    PPS hired a new assistant superintendent and gave 88 teachers a lay off letter. Now, PPS cannot pay $250000 to accommodate 100 students but a new assistant superintendent is going to get about $150000, How is he going to improve education with less teachers and more students in classes. Maybe somebody needs to look at PPS top: deputy, assistance, chiefs, directors, supervisors…… Less teachers , more students in classes, and more administrators is a way to disaster not to educational success. Very top heavy! Time to check who is producing and who is just …… getting paid! Students need teachers in classrooms! An assistant superintendent over Curriculum is useless when substitutes are in classrooms! Computers cannot replace teachers!