DOE shuts Dyker residents out of meeting after wall collapse

After enduring months of construction noise at Dyker Heights Intermediate School, I.S. 201 – and now in the wake of safety concerns, thanks to the recent wall collapse — local residents have one more complaint about the project: They are being given the cold shoulder by the School Construction Authority (SCA).

Penney Santo, who lives on the same block as the school, where work began last fall, said that a meeting about the construction at the intermediate school was limited to parents of enrolled students only, who had to show identification at the door for admission, even though the ongoing work has impacted the quality of life for people living in its shadow.

The meeting was held following the collapse of a fourth floor classroom wall on Monday, April 20, which resulted in the school building being closed until April 22, when it was deemed safe.

“It’s been a long, rough year,” said Santo, who noted that, after complaining about the late night construction, she and other residents had been told by the SCA that work would “stop at 10 p.m.” every night. “After many, many months of asking, begging for some help with school construction at Dyker Junior High School, residents are told it’s going to stop and it never stops.

“It’s insane,” Santo went on. “We have to work and we’re going to bed with the sound of ‘bang, bang, bang.’ We all have jobs; we all have school; it’s unfair to us. It’s like having a toothache and all of a sudden it gets severe and there’s nothing you can do.”

One parent who attended the meeting told this paper that it was not productive. “They gave us no answers,” she said, “but I know the noise is around the clock. We were angry and disappointed. I personally am waiting for the district superintendent to get back to me because my child will not be returning.”

For many of the parents, the frustration began the day the wall collapsed, complaining on the Bay Ridge Parents page on Facebook that they had not been informed, or were informed late, after the collapse of the classroom wall.

“Our infrastructure isn’t the only thing that is failing,” fumed one mother. “Proper communication plans were not executed to notify parents. Do we have to rely on social media to inform us of the safety of our children? This occurred at 11:45 a.m. and it is inexcusable that no communication was sent following this incident.”

According to staff at the school, the construction has brought with it a whole host of problems. One teacher at the school told this paper that since the SCA began work on the building, I.S. 201 has been home to leaky light fixtures, creaky walls and a lingering moldy smell.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education did not respond to questions about the closed meeting. However, he did address the late construction hours, explaining that, because the school is in session, the SCA is limited in the hours it can work, stressing, “When a School Construction Authority project is underway at a school that is occupied, work is done after school hours.”

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