When a school is failing as badly as East High, the surrounding community seems to go through many of the same emotional transitions as a person dealing with a life-threatening illness.
Many of those raw emotions were evident at a meeting at East last week, where about 100 students, parents, staff, and residents reacted to the State Education Department's command to fix the school.
Some students and parents said they're shocked by the news, and many students vigorously defended their teachers. They said their success in school is a direct result of their teachers' hard work and caring.
East's librarian said she's angry because she doesn't have the resources to help the school's nearly 1,800 students.
"If we're trying to support reading and writing, why are we taking away [positions]?" she said. "We're in a crisis mode."
And many of the parents and students said they're angry at the parents who don't engage with East.
"There's only so much staff can do without parental support," said Frances Drumgoole, a home school assistant.
The SED has given district officials until the end of April to come up with a plan for East. The options are: turn it over to SUNY, close the school and open another one, convert East to a charter, or partner with some other entity to run the school.