Conversation with Karen Watts

On Monday 05/13 I met with Executive Superintendent Karen Watts who is in charge of North Brooklyn.

On Friday 05/17 we met again.

This is the topic of our conversation: Read also the comments below where I will add updates

The many conversations I have had with all stakeholders have led me to believe that, unless BHS can be expanded, we need to find an inter-district solution that would serve all DLP students at PS110, PS133, PS20, PS58, and ultimately PS03 and PS05.

Geographically, most of the French-speaking families have lived in what is roughly the North-West part of Brooklyn which encompasses D13, D14, D15, and D16.

Finding a second, more centrally-located school in that area could serve all families in the DLP programs as well as others --whether they are heritage speakers, ELLs, advanced students, or just interested in this idea.

I believe the school would be diverse and integrated. It would provide equity and quality for all students. If the school were to replicate BHS's IB/DLP model, it would provide a strong DLP continuum, one that other linguistic communities could replicate.  

I believe that this school would be a better sell for the current 5th grade families in the appeal process. I also believe that I can help the DOE garner enough support from parents, community leaders, Embassies and consulates, and the business community to make this school flourish.

As a result, Karen Watts and D14 Superintendent Alicja Winnicki are working on a French DLP at IS318. The program would be open to families from the other districts ( the school has a strong chess program which is already borough-wide). Starting the IB at IS318 is under consideration (Karen Watts is a strong proponent of the IB and helped start the IB program at BHS.

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    • Principal at MS 915 is Danielle Scott.
      There's an initial small group planning meeting at MS915 tomorrow so the time could be now to mention it as a possibility/something to raise.  Next year MS915 will be a stand alone middle school for the first time so they're making a lot of decisions. 
      I think there is some confusion about what "dual language" means in middle school and it can scare some principals off -- but a French teacher at the school who can teach both advanced and beginner to all kids would be awesome.  Wouldn't preclude Spanish instruction if the school wants that too.   
      Five kids from PS 133 were placed at 915.    And in the past they've had a few seats in September - if there was a French program, I'm sure they would fill them.    I wonder how many PS 20 DL kids were placed there.   Does anyone know?  
    • Hi Julia,

      Is that meeting at MS915 open to parents from other DLP elementary schools? At what time is it?



    • Sorry, no -- it's not open to parents at all.   It's an internal staff meeting working on next year.   I learned about it from someone on PTA there.    I thought if someone from the DOE was going to reach out to the schools, it would be great if they could do that sooner rather than later.  I'm sure all schools are beginning to think about next year.  

    • Dear Fabrice,

      Your report from the meeting is encouraging although we know that this is not a done deal. We greatly appreciate your tenacity and willingness to find an acceptable solution for all of us.

      Looking forward to their reply.



  • I agree, and almost a legal matter to be honest, as in the official plan report it was clearly mentionned that DLP kids would have priority in DLP programs; and it didn’t happen
    • I thought I read that too. That may be the reason why the superintendent of D15 is willing to do something to avoid any litigation ...

  • Hi all- given appeals are in, I’d be interested in knowing what may be done end of summer/ fall once placements are a bit more finalized.
    I am also interested in having the top brass of the DOE comment on the whole matter in light of very clear discrepancies between the information disseminated in the directories and on MySchools, as well as the promises of diversity plan for dual language programming. Saying they would ‘fix it’ next year is an admission of wrong doing that many of us were caught in the middle of.

    The program with the screen is a burrough wide program and should therefore not be under the same admissions rules as those for D15. The school itself is listed a burrough-wide school.

    This leaves me feeling like i did not participate in a fair lottery. The lack of transparency on how all this was run is very frustrating.
  • Thank you for advocating, Fabrice.

    I wonder if we could get a list of schools where these fifth grade kids were placed.  Maybe Ms Watts could provide that?  There may be a privacy issue, but knowing numbers would help.  If a group of kids were placed in a school like Dock Street or MS 113 - or another school open to a program - maybe there's a toehold for the beginning of a program.  

    It's difficult for parents to give up a seat in a school to take a chance on a tentative program hosted in a school further down on their list.   If the program doesn't happen, you end up in a worse spot than where you started.  

    • Maybe we could add to our profile name the school we got affected to just to have a rough idea of the spectrum already?
    • At this point, we accepted a seat at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School for our youngest son. We lost total confidence in the public system and are not convinced that the DLP / IB program at BHS (where our eldest son currently is in 7 grade) will be as strong either (since there was no screening for francophone children, which used to be the case).
      It’s a shame, our youngest son is nervous about « losing » his French, we will need to find an alternative for him (thankfully we only speak French at home). Kathleen Bridoux
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