NBC New York
Parents, students, teachers and even Occupy Wall Street protesters took to a panel meeting in Brooklyn tonight to voice their opposition to the proposed school closings. Ida Siegal reports.
The Panel for Educational Policy has voted to close or partially close 23 underperforming New York City schools.
The panel, which consists of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and 13 members appointed by each borough president and the mayor, completed the vote at Brooklyn Technical High School late Thursday night.
It's the first round of votes in a year when the city aims to close 62 schools in total. The policy, part of Mayor Bloomberg's educational reform plan, has been met with fierce opposition.
The clash was clear during the public comment period before the meeting Thursday, when more than 1,000 people showed up to protest the closings.
Students, parents, teachers and Occupy Wall Street protesters filled the Brooklyn Tech auditorium to demand the schools stay open. They chanted, "Whose school? Our school!" and "We are taking over."
Walcott planned to listen to public comments before the vote, but protesters were so loud many speakers were drowned out.
At one point, the crowd swelled toward the front of the auditorium, and police surrounded the perimeter of the auditorium.
Outside of the chaos, student April Pichardo told NBC New York she came to make a point.
"We are getting so much better, and for the DOE and the mayor to shut us down, it's really unfair," she said. "Honestly, it makes me feel like I don't matter."
"They removed $700,000 in funds from our school, and our school declined," said a man who was at the meeting. "The test scores for our children were poor -- understandably, because there was no money for our schools."
While most at the public hearing were against school closures, there were some who were not.
"You have parents fighting to keep failing schools open," said parent Bryan Davis. "Why do they do that? That's the question I have."
The schools slated to close or partially close include: