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N.Y.C. Parents Stage Sit-In To Protest School Disruptions

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Angry that their children still did not have a permanent school to attend as a result of the recent asbestos crisis, dozens of New York City parents and their children last week staged a sit-in at a Brooklyn elementary school.

The parents who occupied the first floor of Public School 156 last Monday vowed to stay until Community School District 23 officials found a long-term meeting place for the school's 1,200 students.

The protesting parents, some of whom conducted impromtu classes, estimated that as many as 500 students camped out at the school last week.

The school was one of several hundred closed as a result of the asbestos cleanup. (See Education Week, Sept. 29, 1993.)

The first floor of the building had been cleared of asbestos.

The children at P.S. 156 have been shuttled to three other school buildings since classes started on Sept. 20. Some of them complained of harassment at one of the alternative sites.

The local school board and Superintendent Michael Vega promised parents that students would have permanent space in a nearby school building until the end of the school year, said Frank Sobrino, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Ramon C. Cortines.

Late last week, parents indicated that they would accept the offer and decamp.

Mr. Cortines visited P.S. 156 last month during asbestos inspections and said then that the condition of the school was among the worst in the city, according to Mr. Sobrino.

The chancellor pledged not to reopen the school--located in one of the system's least-affluent districts--until major repairs had been undertaken.

Parent activists have said that the asbestos crisis has raised their awareness about the dramatic need for renovation and repairs in the city's 1,069 public school buildings. (See related story, page 6.)

The Brooklyn parents charged that school officials ignored their protests, including a demonstration last month at the central board of education's headquarters.--J.R.

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