MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – With the academic year set to kick off next week in Mount Vernon, the outlook remains murky for the A.B. Davis Middle School, which has been placed under receivership after once again being designated by the New York State Department of Education as a “struggling.”
In April, it was announced that Davis Middle School was one of nine schools in Westchester County that were designated as “failing” by state standards, along with eight schools in Yonkers, forcing intervention under Educational Law 211-f, placing it under receivership.
According to the school district, Section 211-f “requires that schools that have been priority (struggling) schools since the 2012-2013 school year will be given an initial two-year period under a Superintendent receiver to improve student performance.”
If “demonstrable progress,” is not made at A.B. Davis in the next two years, an “independent receiver” will be appointed to the school for as many as three years until progress is made.
“In those schools designated as ‘persistently struggling,’ there will be an unprecedented infusion of resources to support school turnaround efforts,” Board of Regents Chancellor, Merryl H. Tisch said. “This is an opportunity that communities must seize to come together to fundamentally rethink how these schools carry out their obligations to students and families.”
As a Priority Receivership School, the receiver – Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton - will be vested with the powers and ability to “review and make changes to the school budget, create and change curriculum, and implement professional development for staff members.” Each member of the faculty may be required to reapply for their positions, and the receiver has the power to supersede decisions made by the Board of Education.
Additionally, the receiver has the power to expand school days or the academic calendar, convert the school into a charter school, pursuant to the law, request changes to the collective bargaining agreement and “increase resources for social and emotional developmental health of students” by converting the school into a community school.
According to the terms of receivership, Hamilton will be creating a Parent and Community Engagement team that consists of A.B. Davis Middle School Principal Joshua Whitham, parents, guardians, teachers, students and other staff members.
“In these schools, whole generations of students have been left behind,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia stated. “As a former school superintendent, I know how important it will be for superintendents to use their new authority to develop robust plans to improve student performance. Superintendents have an obligation to act on conditions that have persisted for too long in these schools.”
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