In Queens, a Keeper of 40,

Grover Cleveland High School closing


3:55 p.m. | Updated Hours before a board was scheduled to vote on the closing of 26 public schools, city officials withdrew two of them from contention, retreating from their original plans in the face of strong opposition from elected officials.

The two schools, Grover Cleveland High School and Bushwick Community High School, have little in common.

Cleveland, which earned a C on its last school progress report and has more than 2, 400 students, has been a staple of the Ridgewood, Queens, neighborhood for decades, taking in thousands of students whose academic skills run the gamut, but graduating fewer of them in recent years.

Bushwick Community High School is a transfer school, a last-chance place for students who do not succeed in more traditional schools like Grover Cleveland, and have earned 10 or fewer credits of the 44 they will need to graduate. Bushwick has 420 students and, like Cleveland, earned a C on its last progress report. In 2010, it landed on the state's list of persistently lowest achieving schools, which does not differentiate between transfer schools that serve the neediest children and traditional public schools.

Both schools were recommended for closing based on their graduation rates, which are below the city's average. But in both cases, elected officials intervened to try to spare the schools.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, a graduate of Grover Cleveland, held a hearing earlier this month at which she criticized the Education Department for, among other things, spending millions of dollars to bring vocational classes back to the school, when they had been disbanded years before.

And last week, a senior staff member for the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, placed two phone calls to officials at the department to ask that Bushwick Community remain open.

The call from Ms. Quinn's office came after weeks in which teachers, students and advocacy organizations had been trying to convince the right power brokers that this was the wrong decision.

"We knew what we had to do, " said Jesus Gonzalez, an organizer for Make the Road New York, an advocacy group for immigrants and low-income people.

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