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Mount Vernon Middle School Listed As 'Struggling' By Education Commissioner

Mount Vernon Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Hamilton. Photo Credit: File
A.B. Davis Middle School is in danger of coming under independent control in Mount Vernon. Photo Credit: File

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – For the fourth straight year, A.B. Davis Middle School has been identified as “struggling” by the New York State Education Department, leaving it in danger of becoming a Priority Receivership school.

Late last week, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced that Davis was one of nine Sound Shore schools – including one “struggling” and seven “persistently struggling” schools in Yonkers – that must make improvements or risk coming under an independent receiver that must be approved by the NYSED.

In total, 144 schools in 17 school districts throughout the state were identified as priority schools, those that are routinely among the lowest performing 5 percent of schools in the state.

Because it’s been listed as a “struggling” school for more than three years, the district will now have two probationary years with which to raise standards and improve student performance at the school. If “demonstrable progress” is not made, the independent receiver will be appointed to the school for as many as three years.

“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 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, Mount Vernon Superintendent of Schools Kenneth 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,” 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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