FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—School administrators in New York City agreed to house illegal aliens at James Madison High School in Brooklyn without including parents in the discussion, documents obtained by The Oversight Project show. 

Emails obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project through New York state’s Freedom of Information Law show that officials from the city’s Education Department met Jan. 9 with the high school’s principal to discuss “FBF Evacuation Planning” at the high school.

FBF refers to Floyd Bennett Field, a local airstrip where the city has housed almost 2,000 illegal immigrants in a tent community. Impending inclement weather with “high winds” at the time prompted local officials to seek other accommodations.

In a private email to staff sent at 11:17 a.m. Jan. 9, less than two hours before the scheduled meeting, Madison Principal Jodie Cohen announced that the Brooklyn high school “is the secondary sight [site] to support the residents at Floyd Bennett Field in case it is needed.”

Cohen claimed that, if the illegal aliens were housed in the high school, they would be gone by morning so that students’ lessons would be unimpeded.

“What does this mean to our daily instruction—NOTHING!” she wrote in the email to faculty and other staff. “The plan is for them to come here after the school day ends and leave before the school day begins.”

Cohen provided a list of contingency plans for the illegal immigrants in case “the storm prevents them from returning to Floyd Bennett Field.” These included directions to “Post a Zoom code and your email address” for remote learning and to “secure all personal belongings, and make sure to lock all computer carts”—presumably to prevent theft by the migrants.

Cohen notified Nathaniel Styer and Jenna Lyle, the city Education Department’s press secretary and deputy press secretary, respectively, that she had emailed her high school’s staff. 

Responses from those spokespersons were omitted in the emails provided to The Daily Signal.

Parents of students at the high school were not consulted or notified until five hours later, when Cohen posted a letter to the school’s website informing parents that classes were canceled for the next day, which was Wednesday, Jan. 10.  At 4:13 p.m., the principal emailed the New York City Geographic District #22 administration that “parents, students and staff have been notified of [the] pivot to remote [learning].”

Cohen hosted a Zoom meeting with parents to address the growing backlash at 7 p.m. Jan. 9, during which the Madison High principal lambasted parents for questioning her commitment to students. 

“Please know that I put your kids first,” Cohen said. “I do what I do because I care about children.”

Cohen didn’t email parents or students first when deciding to close Madison High the next day. They were kept in the dark until 4 p.m. Jan. 9.

Although illegal aliens told The New York Times that they had been asked to prepare to leave the high school by 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, Madison administrators canceled in-person learning that day anyway. 

The New York Post reported that migrants “had already been cleared out of James Madison High School at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.”

Parents and local leaders from the Left and Right protested outside the high school that morning.

New York state Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton, D-Staten Island, issued a statement  Jan. 10 referencing a Coney Island elementary school that had been proposed as a “site to house migrants” in 2023. 

Scarbella-Spanton called for passage of her bill to “prohibit the use of schools, daycare centers, or community-based organizations that serve children under 18 from being used as migrant shelters.”

“We must do everything possible to ensure that it NEVER happens again due to situations like this one,” the state lawmaker said.

Many parents asked why Brooklyn College, the storm evacuation site designated by New York City for that section of Brooklyn, wasn’t used to house illegal immigrants rather than displace schoolchildren. 

Over two months later, parents still have few answers regarding the city’s apparent decision to prioritize illegal immigrants over the taxpayer-funded education of city residents’ children. 

The emails from Cohen’s office obtained by The Oversight Project show that school administrators didn’t prioritize the concerns of local parents in the first place.

The Daily Signal sought comment from James Madison High School, but didn’t receive a response by time of publication.

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