MLK school to close, re-open with new focus

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Staff members at PS 39 Martin Luther King Multicultural Institute in Buffalo have been told the school will close at the end of June, and then re-open as a new school.

Next school year, the MLK school will become a different school with ties to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The school has not performed well despite millions of dollars in improvement grants.

Dorothy Grant, the President of the MLK Parent Teachers Association, says she had been assured by the Central Office months ago that MLK would not close.

“We were assured that the school was not closing and our kids would not be moving, and now the kids are going to be gone,” she said.

Some parents are now worried that their children will wind up in other low performing schools.

Sam Radford of the District Parent Coordinating Council said, “Their children as of right now don’t have a school to go to in September, and all the schools in good standing are already full.”

After MLK re-opens as a school tired to the medical campus, students may become involved in apprenticeships in everything from X-ray technicians to medical translators for patients who don’t speak English.

Buffalo School Board member John Licata said, “The focus is going to be jobs on the medical campus. There are a number of jobs on the medical campus that the campus is recruiting for, that aren’t surgeons, they’re not nurses. They keep the campus going on a daily basis.”

But with growing frustration among parents whose students will not be attending new schools of this caliber, there is likely to be a new push to have the state come into Buffalo and take over schools that are failing.

“Declare some type of recovery district for the public schools, so that all these failing schools don’t get to play musical chairs with our children, moving them from one failing school to another failing school,” Radford said.

The state’s deadline for a decision on MLK is Wednesday, which is when Buffalo School Board members meet.

That’s also the deadline for Bennett High School, which is also facing some big changes. The high school has been unable to meet state standards and would start a brand new 9th grade program, according to sources, that would see the school partner with the University at Buffalo for pharmacy courses, and also introducing law, creative writing and journalism courses.

Current 10th, 11th, and 12th graders would be allowed to finish at Bennett.

“I think this board is going to do everything possible to keep Bennett from closing,” Licata said.

He would like to see Bennett become a major part of the Promise Neighborhood Program that already has M&T Bank involved.

Licata said, “See if we can turn Bennett into a business, entrepreneur-type school and have a 7 to 12 program in there. There’s plenty of space.”

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