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The city Department of Education (DOE) rejected P.S. 230’s request to rename the school, this paper has learned.
The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) for P.S. 230, dubbed the Doris Cohen School, wanted the school to be renamed for a 12-year-old Brooklyn boy killed during the Civil War in spite of objections from Cohen’s family.
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein sent a letter to the school explaining his decision. Nicholas Pisano, president of the PTA, read the letter, which said, “I believe it sets a bad precedent to have a school change its name.”
Margie Feinberg, a DOE spokesperson, explained, “There was no compelling reason to change the name.”
“It is important that key community figures for whom schools are named remain part of the fabric of the legacy of school history,” she added.
The battle to rename the school, located at 1 Albemarle Road, went on for months.
The PTA believed the renaming would provide students with a link to history and spark their interest in learning. Parents said students and faculty were unaware of Cohen’s story and her family was absent from school events.
But Cohen’s family argued that it would be disrespectful to rename the Kensington school, since Cohen was an important education activist. Before her death in 1976, Cohen served on the local school board and fought for funding increases for public schools. She helped establish gifted and pre-K programs at local schools, including P.S. 230.
When told that P.S. 230 would remain the Doris Cohen School, Cohen’s son, Joseph, sighed with relief.
“That’s very nice, that’s wonderful,” he told this paper.
The news seemed poignant since next June marks what would have been Cohen’s 100th birthday.
The school will not challenge Klein’s decision.
“Why put the family through that?” Pisano said.
Instead, the school and Cohen’s family plan to work together to make Cohen’s story known to the P.S. 230 community.
“I do hope that the family now, because we know they’re 300 feet away from the school, become more active in the school,” Pisano said.
“We’re talking about going forward, not going backwards,” Joseph said. “We will reach out and hopefully they will cooperate and make it a win-win all around. I guess it’s as much up to the school now to work with us as it’s up to us to work with them.”
Pisano said the school is ready to move forward.
“The parents are definitely disappointed,” he said, “but the PTA will still do the great things that we do for the school so what’s in a name anyway?”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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