By YOAV GONEN, Education Reporter
October 14, 2008
City officials have agreed to pay for the education of hundreds of students who claim they were prevented from attending regular classes at their Brooklyn high school and otherwise encouraged to drop out, The Post has learned.
The preliminary settlement was spurred by claims from former Boys and Girls HS students that they had been assigned shortened schedules and noncredit-bearing classes or else warehoused in the auditorium of the Bedford-Stuyvesant school beginning in 2002.
Once they fell behind, some students said they were told they were cut from the school's register or pressured to pursue a General Equivalency Diploma.
"It seemed to me like they just wanted me to get out of their hands," said Darrius Spann, 20.
Now working as a security guard, Spann said he spent much of the 2003-04 school year in the school auditorium with as many as 80 students.
His classmate Roger Hutchinson, now 19, said he similarly reported to the auditorium for much of 10th grade - where he and other students spent hours filling out math worksheets under the watch of school deans.
"I was really totally discouraged - I wasn't caring about anything," said Hutchinson, who, like Spann, said he eventually dropped out in order to work.
Both are now hoping to attend Apex Tech - one of the trade schools that the city will pay for under the terms of the agreement, which could affect as many as 500 students enrolled at the school between 2002 and 2008.
The settlement of the suit, filed in 2005 by the group Advocates for Children, is expected to get final approval at a Nov. 14 hearing.
City Law Department officials said they couldn't comment until after the hearing.