CO-OP CITY, the Bronx (PIX11) — It’s a 3-K through eighth grade school that’s educated a whole generation of students. That history will come to a close this week, unless the school’s landlord has a change of heart, after it got the school evicted, with 72 hours’ notice.
The situation, which is the result of a longstanding rent dispute, has left families at the Marcus Garvey School angry and scrambling. It’s also left students saddened.
Maya Rudolph is in pre-K at the Garvey School. If anyone thought that a 4-year-old was unaware of serious issues surrounding her, they’d be sorely mistaken.
When asked an unrelated question, Maya made clear that her mind was on the matter at hand for the whole community.
“Please don’t close my school,” she said.
With each passing hour, it appears that her request may not be satisfied.
The eviction order requires the school to leave its premises at 950 Baychester Ave. by Thursday. So on Wednesday morning, teachers were removing displays, and carting off their supplies from the building. Anything left behind would end up being locked behind the school’s doors.
Parents told PIX11 News that shuttering the school will eliminate a cultural and family resource.
“Right now, I don’t know,” said parent Talita Rudolph, about prospects for her and her two children at the school. “We don’t family nearby, we don’t have much help. It’s my husband and I with our children. So what do you do?”
Other parents, like Nicole McIntosh, said that a closure will affect the children even more strongly than parents.
“To displace 3-year-olds at a moment’s notice,” McIntosh said, was unfair to them. “How could you toss them in the middle of the school year? How is that American?”
The private school that offers a city-funded 3-K program has had an ongoing rental dispute for years with its landlord, the Riverbay Corporation.
The dispute has involved unpaid rent at another facility, two blocks away from the school, into which the Garvey School had hoped to expand before the pandemic began.
In the court case between the school and its landlord, the school said that it had offered to pay its back rent.
Landlord Riverbay turned down the offer, and subsequently, the judge in the case sided with them. Now, the only thing keeping the school in operation is a willingness by Riverbay to grant a last-minute reprieve.
The Garvey School’s principal and founder, June O’Connor, appealed to Riverbay for the reprieve.
“Allow us to finish the year,” she said, in an interview with PIX11. “All of those logistics are already in place. To disrupt us at this time is untold horror.”
PIX11 News reached out to Riverbay multiple times. It did not answer its phones, and its attorney, Jeffrey Buss, did not respond to an email and phone call requesting a response.
For now, the Garvey School is on course to closing its doors on Thursday.