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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Students, teachers stand up to DOE to save DeWitt Clinton

By Sarina Trangle
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MARISOL DÍAZ/THE RIVERDALE PRESS
José Mejia, 17, a JROTC Cadet and a senior at DeWitt Clinton High School speaks in support of his high school.
MARISOL DíAZ/THE RIVERDALE PRESS
Luis Jorge, Nicholas Pabon and Demitri R. Payne get emotional during a meeting on Dec. 6, about the possibility of closing DeWitt Clinton High School.
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The Bronx without DeWitt Clinton would be like Manhattan without Stuyvesant or Cambridge without Harvard, Clinton’s former principal Norman Wechsler told education officials.

The Riverdalian spoke against tampering with the 115-year legacy of a high school that has graduated generations of successful Bronxites at a Dec. 6 forum on how the Department of Education should respond to Clinton’s second consecutive failing progress report.

“No other high school in this nation can point to the quality of alumni produced by this inimitable temple of learning … We’re gathered here this evening to collectively demand that the New York City Department of Education provide DeWitt Clinton with the same consideration afforded to all other schools. We cannot be the dumping ground for students who would make it impossible for small schools to flourish,” he said.

Cheers from the hundreds gathered in Clinton’s auditorium punctuated Mr. Wechsler’s speech, the first of dozens given by students, teachers and alumni. 

One by one, Clintonites told Elaine Gorman, the DOE superintendent of superintendents, that Clinton’s successes outweigh its 50 percent four-year graduation rate and the “priority” school label it received for being among the 5 percent of lowest performers in the state.  

Ms. Gorman told attendees that Clinton had been flagged for “early intervention” based solely on statistics. After meeting with teachers, interviewing each member of the School Leadership Team and hearing from the community on Dec. 6, she said the DOE will choose to either supply the school with more support, such as giving it new leadership and more professional development, or end Clinton’s tenure by phasing it out or breaking it up into small schools.

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