It's Official: Khalil Gibran International Academy To Return to Boerum Hill

Embattled bilingual education program booted out of P.S. 287 in Fort Greene.

The city's Panel for Educational Policy officially voted to move from Fort Greene back to Boerum Hill on Monday night.

Starting in 2012, the school will move from  to the a school the city is phasing out) on Schermerhorn Street. In a separate vote, PEP also voted to transform KGIA from a middle school to a high school serving grades 9-12 only. 

Reaction from backers of the long-embattled school — many of whom chose not to attend yesterday's PEP meeting — was a mix of resignation and anger over what one community activist called Mayor Michael Bloomberg's capitulation to "Islamophobic forces."

"If you're going to stand up to Park51, where were you when Khalil Gibran needed help?" asked Linda Sarsour, director of the Arab American Association of New York, referring to the Islamic community center slated to open a few blocks away from Ground Zero. 

Since opening in 2007, the school saw the end of the short but contentious tenure of its first leader, Debbie Almontaser, as well as a succession of moves from its original home in Boerum Hill to DUMBO and then to P.S. 287.

The latest move is a closing of the loop of sorts for KGIA, because the school is moving into the more heavily Arab-speaking District 15 — its target population. 

“We’re confident that the new location — accessible to families seeking an Arab-language education — combined with a curriculum that offers students Arab-language skills and tools to succeed after high school, will put Khalil Gibran on a path to improvement," said a DOE spokesperson.

During the last school year, KGIA's enrollment was pegged at 111 students — only five of which were Arab-American, according to Sarsour. 

However, Sarsour argued that the lack of demand for seats among Arabic-speaking New York families was not a problem of location. 

"This school could have been a draw to the city's biggest Arab-American community in southwest Brooklyn," she said. "Khalil Gibran is just another school. There is nothing special about it anymore."

One speaker at yesterday's PEP meeting, Jamie Greenberg of the group New Visions for Public Schools, spoke favorably of a proposal to implement an Arab-English International Baccalaureate program as part of KGIA's transformation.

"We continue to support KGIA's vision and mission to provide rigorous instruction with a focus on Arabic-English language and culture," Greenberg said.


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