Arabic school finds temporary home in Brooklyn

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu May 10 12:38:28 UTC 2007

May 10, 2007

Arabic School Finds Temporary Home in Brooklyn


The Department of Education has found a temporary site for the Khalil
Gibran International Academy, a public school devoted to the study of
Arabic language and culture that is scheduled to open in September. The
school will be put in a building at 345 Dean Street in Boerum Hill,
Brooklyn, that currently houses the Brooklyn High School of the Arts and
the Math and Science Exploratory School, a middle school. Last Friday, the
department canceled plans to place Khalil Gibran in the same building as
Public School 282, an elementary school in Park Slope.  The department had
faced opposition from the parents at P.S. 282, who objected to sharing the
space. And some conservative columnists had condemned the school, saying
it could promote radical Islam.

Khalil Gibran will open to up to 60 sixth graders, said Melody Meyer, a
spokeswoman for the department. It will take up three classrooms in the
building and share common spaces like the cafeteria. After two years, it
will move to a more permanent site. We are confident that the three
schools can share space effectively, Ms.  Meyer said in a statement. We
met with the principals and parent leadership at both schools yesterday
and will continue to work with both school communities to plan the best
use of the space in the building to ensure the success of all three

Robert W. Finley III, the principal of the Brooklyn High School of the
Arts, said he was prepared to accept Khalil Gibran on a temporary basis. I
would be less than honorable if I were to object to this, he said. The
Department of Education is the landlord. We know there is a shortage of
classroom space in New York City and there is an increase in the number of
new schools in September. The principal at the Math and Science
Exploratory School did not return calls seeking comment. Randi Weingarten,
the president of the United Federation of Teachers, declared support for
the Khalil Gibran school in a statement yesterday. As long as there is
adequate space in the building, this is an idea that should be welcomed,
she said.

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