Louis opposes re-opening of schools
Seventh-day Adventist head proposes affordable housing project
Caribbean Life, August 21-27, 2020 3
By Nelson A. King
The president of the Northeastern Conference
of the Seventh-day Adventists and
head of an organization that oversees
schools for lower-income children from
immigrant families is proposing the construction
of an affordable housing project
adjacent to a school for Haitian immigrants
in Crown Heights.
Dr. Daniel Honore told Caribbean Life
that the project would help preserve the
Hebron Seventh-day Adventist Bilingual
“At our school in Crown Heights, which
has educated children from Haitian and
other families for nearly five decades,
I pray we can keep our historic school
building from literally falling apart,” he
“That is why I would call it a miracle
that we could use our parking lot to create
a project that would bring both affordable
housing to our community and provide
our school with the resources it needs
to restore our 131-year-old building,” he
But Dr. Honore said, “unfortunately,
there are some who are opposing this
project, putting our miracle, and our kids,
“The opposition is surprising to me,”
he said without identifying the opponents.
“Until very recently, our Hebron
Seventh-day Adventist Bilingual School
did not receive any attention at all from
the folks who now seem concerned about
the state of our church and school, a landmark
that was originally the Methodist
Home for the Aging.
“To add insult to injury, they are also
now claiming their campaign to block
our project is in order to ‘protect’ the
buildings we are trying to save, which
have been deteriorating in front of them
for years,” Dr. Honore said. “We find this
duplicitous and deceptive.”
He said his proposed project would be
built mainly on the vacant portion of the
school’s property, and would not require
any demolition of the original building.
“In fact, our goal is the opposite: preservation,”
he said. “So, why would some of
our neighbors oppose this plan? I suspect
it is related to their other criticisms of
our proposal, which are about its size and
Dr. Honore said one critique is that his
project would be too large.
But he said the 182-unit, rent-stabilized
residential building that he is proposing
would be within the existing zoning
and would actually be the same height
as an existing apartment building directly
across the street.
In addition, Dr. Honore said the project
would be shorter than the highest point of
the existing school.
He pointed to another argument that
the current building’s architecture does
not suit the neighborhood.
“But our architect specifically designed
the structure to echo the Romanesque
style of our church, and its red brick
façade is similar to most other apartment
buildings you would find in Crown
Heights,” Dr. Honore said. “So, I would
say that the opposition comes from something
He said the Hebron Church was founded
in Crown Heights in 1956 by Haitian
immigrants seeking to practice their faith
in a new land.
Nearly 20 years later, Dr. Honore said
the Haitian immigrants established a
school to provide their children academic
excellence in the context of their culture
Today, he said the school serves a
multi-cultural clientele, stating that the
church has been “a stable influence in
Crown Heights’ social fabric for over 60
“Our goal is to strengthen this social
fabric and not to weaken it; to preserve it
and not let it fall apart,” Dr. Honore said.
“Families, like the ones who emigrated
here following the 2010 earthquake in
Haiti, depend on our school and also need
affordable places to live.
By Nelson A. King
With the scheduled first day of school
in New York City quickly approaching,
Brooklyn Council Member, Farah N.
Louis remains strongly opposed to the
re-opening of schools.
“With less than a month before
thousands walk into their classrooms
on the first day of school, the reality is
the Department of Education (DOE) is
not ready to resume in-person instruction,”
Louis, the daughter of Haitian
immigrant, who represents the 45th
Council District, told Caribbean Life.
“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes
of other school districts across
the US that are now battling new
COVID-19 cases in children that they
were supposed to protect,” she added.
“Our students, parents, teachers, principals,
and staff deserve to feel secure.
“We need a concrete plan from the
Department of Education that details
the precautionary measures undertaken,
including the provision of PPEs
(Personal Protective Equipment) and
other resources,” continued Louis. “I
stand with the Council of School Supervisors
and Administrators (CSA), United
Federation of Teachers (UFT), our
parents, and students in calling for
the DOE to postpone the reopening of
schools until there is a practical plan
and adequate funding for nurses in
each school, supplies, and deep cleaning
“The public health and safety risk are
far too high for us not to exhaust every
resource to keep everyone that enters a
school building safe,” she said. “Thank
you NYC Council Member and Education
Committee Chair Mark Treyger for
your leadership and diligence!”
Last week, Louis and Assembly
Member Rodneyse Bichotte, who represents
the 42nd Assembly District in
Brooklyn, co-hosted a teleconference
with DOE officials on the reopening
plans for the 2020-21 school year.
Besides elected officials. Mayor Bill
de Blasio is facing increasing pressure
from the city’s teachers, principals
and even members of his own
administration to delay the start of
in-person instruction by several weeks
to give educators more time to prepare,
according to the New York Times.
It said on Tuesday that de Blasio has
been hoping to reopen the nation’s largest
school system on a part-time basis
for the city’s 1.1 million schoolchildren
this fall —” a feat no other big-city
mayor is currently even attempting.
“If New York is able to reopen schools
safely, it would be an extraordinary
turnaround for a city that was a global
epicenter of the pandemic just a few
months ago,” the paper said. “Schools
are the key to the city’s long path
back to normalcy: opening classrooms
would help jump start the struggling
economy by allowing more parents
to return to work, and would provide
desperately needed services for tens of
thousands of vulnerable students.
“But Mr. de Blasio’s push to reopen
on time is now facing its most serious
obstacle yet: the city’s principals,
tasked with actually implementing the
reopening plan, are questioning the
city’s readiness,” it added.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the
city’s principals’ union, wrote a letter
last week, calling on the mayor to heed
his members’ “dire warnings.”
“We are now less than one month
away from the first day of school and
still without sufficient answers to many
of the important safety and instructional
questions we’ve raised,” he said.
Haitian-American Councilwoman Farah N. Louis.
Dr. Daniel Honore.