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Contracts restored at Rainbow Child Development Center

Jun. 30, 2023 By Ethan Marshall

Contracts have now been restored at the Rainbow Child Development Center just two weeks after a rally was held calling on the New York City Department of Education to not close the program.

As a result, enrollment for the 2023-24 school year has been restored and parents have already begun to enroll their children. The development center serves 400 Queens children at its locations in Flushing, Little Neck, Fresh Meadows and Long Island City.

“As a bilingual Chinese and English school, Rainbow has been instrumental in the language development of my children,” Vanessa Dai said. “I have personally seen how the teachers and staff are able to bring out the best in all the kids in the school no matter their background or ability. My family has been extremely happy here and we are so excited that we will be able to re-enroll for the next year.”

According to state Sen. John Liu, over the two weeks between the June 15 rally at the Flushing location and Friday’s announcement of the contracts being restored, discussions were frequently held with the DOE, with advocacy provided by families, teachers and elected officials. These advocates argued that DOE was wrong to try cancelling the contracts and close the four schools and reassign families to other schools to which they never applied to and, in some cases, were located in other boroughs.

“The DOE has made the right decision and we thank the Chancellor for recognizing the importance of this early childhood learning center that serves hundreds of families throughout Queens with bilingual English/Chinese competency,” Liu said. “The battle to keep the school open is won, but we will stay vigilant to make sure all reimbursements are forthcoming and that any future actions are conducted with fairness and transparency and in a manner that will not adversely impact the livelihoods of this important community school or the hundreds of families who are part of the Rainbow family.”

The DOE’s initial decision to not renew the contracts and close Rainbow stemmed from a payment dispute between a handful of parents and the center at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. An investigation was conducted by the Special Commissioner of Investigation in response to this, which concluded in May 2023. Over the course of the investigation, Rainbow did not receive any updates or the $2 million in reimbursements owed to them by the DOE.

In order to continue operating without the funding from DOE, the operators for Rainbow had to rely on personal funds. After not receiving any updates for around three years, they approached the City Comptroller about the absence of funds received from DOE. It was only then that the school learned it would be shut down for the next school year.

After Rainbow informed Liu about their situation, he participated in the June 15 rally and sent a letter to New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks in which he rebuked the DOE. In the letter, Liu accused the DOE of making false public statements in regards to outstanding payments. He also demanded that the DOE renew the contracts for the schools so that it can continue serving the Queens community.

“We have always maintained that the accusations against our school were false and unfair and that we never even had a chance to respond before the DOE notified parents that our programs were closed,” Rainbow Child Development Center Owner Christine Ye said. “Rainbow has been long renowned for our commitment to providing a nurturing and inclusive environment for our youngest learners in the communities where they live. Today, we are so happy to say we are able to continue providing Pre-K and 3-K services to our families for the next school year and I am eternally grateful to all of Rainbow’s families, educators and our community elected officials who spoke up on our behalf and never gave up on us!”

“We are overjoyed that we will be able to send our daughter to her 3K program at Rainbow Child Development Center for the upcoming school year and are looking forward to enrolling immediately,” Michael Perlmutter said. “This school means so much to our daughter, her friends and the community and it is so important that this caring, child-centered community school remains open and available to all.”

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