PRESS STATEMENT

Friends of the International Leadership Charter School Announce Victory for Bronx Community

On Tuesday January 10, 2006 the New York State Board of Regents voted unanimously to fill the last 4 charter school slots available for New York City. The establishment of the International Leadership Charter School, a high school proposed for the Bronx, is a victory for the Puerto Rican and Latino immigrant youth and the community which it will serve. This grassroots effort led by a Bronx puertorriquena Dr. Elaine Ruiz Lopez is part of a larger vision for the neighborhood in which the school will be located.

With the conviction that, “It takes a village to educate a child…” Dr. Ruiz Lopez, graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University is the founder and Chief Executive Officer for ILCS. She embarked upon a long and rigorous journey to address a problem that is approaching epidemic proportions in the Borough. “If they are not being taught how can they graduate?” A drop-out rate for Bronx high school students that exceeded more than 50% in some areas was the driving force that fueled this Bronx native’s passion for bringing together the most dedicated and experienced individuals in the area of law, finance, non-profit management, school administration and community engagement to ensure that the dream for this community would become a reality.

This effort was made possible with the support of numerous community leaders and organizations that actively united around the concept of establishing a charter high school that would provide a stellar education to the most neglected student population in the Bronx, the ELL and immigrant high school age youth.

The stakes were very high in this process as there were several groups who applied for the remaining slots before the Cap on charter schools closed. ILCS is only the second charter high school in the NYC that has been authorized by Chancellor Joel Klein. The first charter high school is Williamsburg Charter High School whose founder and CEO Eddie Calderon Melendez is on the ILCS Board of Trustees. Other key board members include Frances Lucerna, founder of Peace and Justice Academy El Puente, Peter Moyers, Esq, Professor Frank Tang, Alice Mairs, and Al Prentice McCutchen.

The organizations and individuals who supported this effort includes Community Planning Board 6, El Puente, Inc., the National Council of La Raza, the International Branch of the YMCA, the New York City Charter Center for Excellence, Professor Pedro Noguera, NYU, The Children’s Defense Fund, The Office of the Bronx Borough President, Councilman Joel Rivera, Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, and Mastermind, Inc.

The positive outcome validated the numerous sacrifices made by the ILCS founding Board of Trustees and the Friends of ILCS, Inc. Dr. Ruiz Lopez, who prefers being called Elaine, is already preparing diligently for the first day of school and 4 years up the road. Elaine cannot wait to meet all 88 9th grade students who will for the first time, enroll in a public school of choice with an equal opportunity to attend and graduate from a quality school with an academically rigorous curriculum that is designed to pave the way toward enrollment in the college of their choice. According to Elaine, “For hundreds of students this may be the first time that they have been given a fighting chance to be the first in their families to attend college. Failure will never be an option at ILCS. Now that’s social justice.”

For more information, Dr. Elaine Ruiz Lopez at 646-623-8879 or Palomaazul@aol.com
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