NY: New Building, Same Old Controversy for Arabic School


To say that the Arabic-themed Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), a dual-language grade 6-12 public school in Brooklyn, had a bumpy first school year would be a massive understatement.

Founded with the aim of providing the city’s children with a foundation in Arabic language and culture, the little school and its students soon became a ping pong ball in a game played by forces beyond its control.

Attacks by conservative groups, multiple location changes accompanied by parent protests, the resignation of the founding principal, a continuing lawsuit, discipline problems and charges of inept handling by the city’s Department of Education (DOE) are just a few of the highlights of the school’s first year.

Now, as KGIA opens for its second year in a new location (on Navy Street near Fort Greene), supporters of founding principal Debbie Almontasser charge — again — that the DOE is shortchanging the school.

In a release sent out Tuesday, Communities in Support of KGIA say that the school opened “without its full Arabic-language instruction, effective leadership, or any of its five original teachers or its social worker.”

Communities in Support of KGIA is made up of a coalition of groups including AWAAM (Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media), Brooklyn for Peace, the Center for Immigrant Families and more.

Among multiple complaints, the group maintains that the Department of Education “reneged on its original commitment to continuing KGIA as a 6th to 12th grade program and has not made a commitment beyond grades 6 through 8.” Additionally, they say that the DOE recently cut the school’s Arabic language program from five to three days per week and moved to a location far from the borough’s Arab-American community and subway stations. (MORE)

 


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