Tue | Dec 5, 2023

NY-based Garvey School faces uncertain future

Published:Saturday | September 9, 2023 | 12:05 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer


The Garvey School, situated on Baychester Avenue in the Bronx, which reopened at the start of the new school year last Thursday, is facing an uncertain future as the landlord for the building it now occupies is looking to reclaim the space.

Founded by Jamaican educator June O’Connor in 2009 and named after the country’s first national hero, Right Excellent Marcus Garvey, the school currently has an enrolment of 120 students and 20 teachers. A 501 c3 institution, it has been at its present location since 2012.

However, landlords River Bay Corporation recently terminated the lease and took the school to court for possession. The parties returned to court on August 14 after the school’s management submitted a brief on August 4.

The judge, who heard the case in the Bronx Housing court, promised to issue a ruling on the matter seven days after the hearing on August 14. To date, no decision has been handed down by the judge.

The potential loss of the lease places the school’s four-year $3,000 early childhood city contract at risk as it is site specific. O’Connor says the entire school community would be negatively impacted.

“Early childhood service is a very high need for Caribbean, African, African American and Hispanic families. The loss of this programme will create significant hardship for our families as well as loss of income for our staff, who are all heads of household and main breadwinners,” said O’Connor. She explained that an extended lease would allow adequate time to relocate the programme in proximity to the current location, which will greatly increase its chance of retaining the four-year grant.

She said the building management gave no reason for wanting the school out of its current space.

“I can only assume that with the current real estate market, the management believes that it will get more money for the space,” she said.

Garvey School currently pays rent of just over US$5,000 per month. The Gleaner understands that the management company, River Bay Management, has since accepted rent payment for the space.


The non-public school serves two-year-olds, Pre-K up to grade 8 students.

Since opening its doors in 2009, the Garvey School has served over 7,000 students and has placed approximately 90 per cent of its graduates in competitive high and independent schools.

“The school is built on the principle that every child should experience a stimulating, educational environment to foster emotional, social, and academic growth while engaging in active discovery and inquiry-based learning where every question is a valid entry point to a larger discourse,” O’Connor stressed.

“We are proud that our track record shows students are admitted to the following schools: Fieldstone, Thornton-Donovan, Hackley, Harvey and Masters. Among our public schools are Brooklyn Technical High School and Bronx Science,” she said.

The community has also rallied to the school’s cause. Jamaica’s Consul General in New York, Alsion Wilson, has written to the Bronx Borough president asking for an intervention to save the school.

She said that efforts to save the school, whether at its current space or a new location, are ongoing. “The school provides a necessary service and should be allowed to continue functioning,” she said.