Tuesday, April 29, 2008

School Campus Receives a Living Senator’s Name, Much to His Opponent’s Annoyance


It is there in black and white: New York City public schools cannot be named after living people, according to the chancellor’s regulations, the set of rules and policies governing the city’s school system.

But the regulations say nothing about naming entire school campuses — like a cluster of schools offset by lush greenery — for those who are still alive. Or, for that matter, for those who are living, breathing politicians gearing up for contested re-election campaigns.

And so, Monday morning, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced that a campus of schools in eastern Queens — previously known as the Glen Oaks Campus, and once home to the grounds of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center — would be named after Frank Padavan, a longtime Republican state senator from Queens who is being challenged for re-election by James F. Gennaro, a Democratic city councilman.

Mr. Klein, at a morning news conference on Monday, called the naming a “unique situation,” saying that the campus, which was years in the making and involved, among other things, the transfer of state-owned land to the city, “came into being because of the extraordinary work of Senator Padavan.”

“I’d be happy if other people throughout the city could develop options for us like this, be happy to name campuses,” he said. “I think it sends a signal that when you do unique work you get recognition for it.”

Mr. Klein was also quick to note the distinction between school and campus, saying, “We don’t name buildings.”

But Democratic politicians scoffed at the distinction, calling the naming ceremony a political act intended to give Mr. Padavan an edge in an election in which Republican control of the State Senate is considered critical to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s agenda. Earlier this year, the mayor angered Democratic lawmakers by writing a $500,000 check to the Senate Republicans, even though he has left the Republican Party and is now an independent.

Robert Jackson, chairman of the City Council Education Committee, said that if Mr. Padavan worked hard to create new schools for his constituents, well, that was his job.

“Smells political to me,” Mr. Jackson said. “Just say that you’re doing it for political purposes, in order to support the Republican Party, in order to keep their majority in the State Senate. Just say that.”

Mr. Jackson called the distinction between school and education campus “ridiculous,” saying, “Give me a break.”

Mr. Gennaro said he was “absolutely incredulous” to hear that the campus was being named for his opponent.

“It’s no secret that the mayor is the No. 1 supporter of the Republican majority, which he’s more than free to do with his own money,” Mr. Gennaro said in a telephone interview. “But when he starts naming city infrastructure after sitting elected officials to try to ensure or at least assist the Republican majority, then that is so over the line as to be completely outrageous and totally disgraceful.”

He called the distinction between school and campus “absurd,” saying, “If you’re naming a star, there’s standards, but if you’re naming a whole galaxy that’s O.K.?”

Mr. Padavan said he had worked to create schools on the former grounds of the Creedmoor center since 1998, when he proposed the idea to Rudy Crew, then the schools chancellor. The campus now includes three schools: two kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools called Public School-Intermediate Schools 266 and 208, and a high school, the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences.

Mr. Padavan described himself as the city’s “go-to guy in Albany” who helped secure billions of dollars for the city schools. Asked whether he thought the campus naming was intended to give the Senate Republicans an edge in the election, he said, “We don’t need an edge.”

“If you traveled around my district, I’d take you to Padavan Field, Padavan Way, Padavan Pavilion and a whole bunch of other places that have my name on them,” he said. “I’m grateful for all these organizations and entities who have put my name up on something that they were grateful to get.”




Anonymous said...


Well why didn't they name him after the school while the school was being made? Why wait about 6 years later to see that he help build the school to change the campus name to his name?
I really don't think its a big deal that they want to name the campus after him I just think it was a bit of a problem that they waited this long to change it.
like my teacher said in class i think this might help is election.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty surprised when I found out that our campus name was being changed to the Frank Padavan Campus. Honestly, I like the Glen Oaks campus name better than this one. It doesn't really matter to me though if the campus's name is changed or not. I agree with Kemi that it is going to help Padavan's election because since our campus was named after him.

Anonymous said...

Another Great American Hero!

Just like Columbus, Washington, Jefferson....oh wait I remember hearing something about them like.....

Anonymous said...

When a situation takes place like this one, it is really hard to say what is right or wrong. Some people can sit there and say that Frank Padavan is doing this now, and only now, because he is up for re elections in November. Some may question the reason from Mr. Padavan changing the name now, and not when the school first got started. Could this be because he was waiting to see how it would turn out? If the school would succeed, or if it would fall into to the many bad statistics that New York City schools have. No one is taking away from the fact that what Frank Padavan did was truly amazing. How if this campus wasn't built, or did not have the funds to be made, many kids could have been lost in the system, not having a school that they could really belong too. So at the end of the day, it is really up to ones self, what they wish to believe about Senator Frank Padavan.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Tiffany. I believe that it's not a big deal renaming our glen oaks campus. Even though it is going to affect his election in a way. It really doesn't matter to me if the name is changed but why right now?..why not before?..I also agree with Alyssa where she said that Padavan might have waited to see if the school has succeeded or not.

-Simran Kaur

Courtney Wilson said...

I really hated the renaming of the school because of the fact that Padavan didn't hear the thoughts of the students. Most, if not all of the students at school heard about the renaming and wondered who the man was. If we had some background information as to the particulars of his part in the building of the school, it would have been better. But to just "hear" that he was the major fundraiser for the school doesn't help much because we didn't witness it.

I really believe that, because its an election year, he's looking to put his name on anything to muster up some votes (even if its a scandal).

Vickie Lennon said...

There are few things in my life I know to be certain. My name is Victoria Lennon, I was born on December 7,1990, I go to the Queens High School of Teaching at the Glen Oaks Campus. Well all of these things were true up until a few days ago, when the name of my schools campus was mysteriously changed to the Frank Padavan Campus at Glen Oaks.
According to my neighbor who is our representative in the Civic Association, Senator Padavan is a sweet guy. And if it wasn't for his devotion to education the land that we are sitting on would not be schools but luxury condos. Also if you ever have any questions of him or his office his sectratary is very helpful and will anwser any of you concerns.
This is very true, in fact we should all be apprecative for the work Padavan put in, except for one small problem. Naming the campus after himself is not technically banned as part of the school code, but he has only gotten in because of a loop whole. As they stated in the article " it is not okay to name a star after a person, but okay to name the entire galaxy." You cannot name a schhol building after a living person, Padavan knows this an as a law abiding Senator he should of upheld that rule.
I don't believe that this naming was a ploy to win the election. Frank padavan has been our Senator for many years and there is very little chance that he would have lost this election. The Senator did this as a way to boast about his accomplishments. If he truly cared about eduation, it would be enogh to see the school he helped built thriving, he wouldn't have had to have his name on it. And even if he did he should have waited till he was decceased, just like Martin VanBuren and Francis Lewis.

John said...

I have to agree with what Vicky said, except for the my name is part. My name is obviously not Vicky.
I am greatful for the fact that he helped make this school a reality, but if he wanted to name it after himself why wait til now? Also should we, as students of this school, gotten a say in the matter?
The loophole that allowed this should obviously be closed. You can't name a building after a living person, but a cluster of them is ok?

M. Harmon said...

I agree with what Courtney and Vickie said. First off, the students and faculty should have been asked their opinion on the renaming of the campus. This is in fact all of ours, not just the cities school, so we should have a say. Second, like Vickie said, he only got the campus named after him on a technicality; being that it didnt say anything about naming an entire campus after someone. Whether its the school or the campus, if Padavan is involved with any scandal in the future, it still tarnishes us because we go to the campus. It would have been more meaningful if the campus was named after him after he was deceased, because it would have been like it was dedicated in his memory. Now its just another thing he has under his belt.

Alyssa Cumberbatch said...

I strongly agree with the point that most of the students who have responded to this article have made. Padavan only chose now to have his name put on the campus, and as Megan and Vickie pointed out on a technicality, because of the upcomming election. He deffinitely feels that this is going to help boost his chances to win.
Frank Padavan in the end of the article was also quoted to have named a few more things named after him. One of the places named was "Padavan Feild". I didn't realize at the time, but Padavan Feild previously known as Preller feild right on Hillside next to the YMCA! Which is the same feild we used for my softball team a few years back. I've seen that feild for YEARS now, and Frank Padavan seemed to have no affiliation to it until now. Although some may say that he helped to get the property of the school, thus giving him the opportunity for his name to be apart of the campus, I'm not quite sure what he might have done for Preller after all these years.
My question is, how did he get all these places named after him, and did he actually have anything benificial to do with the places (for example, Padavan Feild, Padavan Way, ect.) that he seems to brag about in the article?
Also what right does he have to have these places named after him? Are there more deserving people of this honor?

-Alyssa Cumberbatch

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kemi's point of view.I think this is all a poltical game being skem thought of by many.
I was also shocked that our school's name had been changed. But, even more shocking was that it was named after a living person.Its good that Mr. Padavan did many things for the community, but that doesn't mean he could name something after himself; because laws are laws. If your still alive then you can not have a building named after you, simple.

Manpreet Kaur

Anonymous said...


I believe that frank padavan is only trying to put a good name on hisself. Yes he did have a great deal on the schools being there , but I still feel the rules should be followed that a building shouldn't be named after a living senator. && like everyone else said , how come we didn`t have a say so in the renaming of the school or how we feel about it cause after all we do go to the school. it`s nothing better for us to do and sit back and watch how long his name will stay up there. Of course everyone will have their own opinion about frank padavan for example vickie heard from her neighbor that frank padavan is a sweet guy from my family my grandfather told me frank padavan is a racist even though I would like to find something to back that up w| so I will try && find a article or website stating that.