Late Friday afternoon, the Voice got word that the battle over the Lower East Side public school known as “the NEST” – short for New Explorations in Science, Technology, and Math – had come to an abrupt end.
For months now, parents at the gifted and talented school have been locked in a debate with the city’s Department of Education over its plan to place a new charter school in their building next fall. The PTA even filed a lawsuit to stop the seemingly imminent arrival of Ross Global Academy, founded by the wealthy philanthropist Courtney Ross. All along, the city has refused to back down.
This afternoon, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sent out a department email announcing that Ross Global would be relocated. Not only that, but it said the NEST principal, Celenia Chevere, was losing her post at the school she’d nurtured over the past five years because of “charges of misconduct.” The email did not elaborate on the nature of said charges. As reported in the Voice‘s piece on the NEST fight, though, school officials suspected the NEST staff had manipulated student enrollment figures in order to lay claim to more space in their building. They had called for an inquiry.
“Celenia Chevere is being served with notice of charges of misconduct,” states the email. “In the interest of maintaining stability for the school’s students and the new principal,” it continues, “we will relocate the Ross Global Academy to another site.”
NEST parents responded to the news with joy, not surprisingly, saying the decision “secures our children’s futures, and that’s what this was about.” In a two-paragraph statement, the PTA expresses concern about the charges. “We intend to find out more about these charges to make certain that [Chevere’s] history as one of the cities premier educators is not smeared,” the statement reads.
Ross, for her part, declined to comment on the latest development.
Despite cries of victory, NEST parents expect to return to Manhattan Supreme Court on July 11 to argue their suit, and some say pieces in the case challenging the validity of the Ross Global charter remain alive.
So, it seems, stay tuned.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 23, 2006