The team, which is the same team the movie?
The Knights of South Bronx? was based on, was scheduled to leave Thursday for Houston, TX for a national tournament. Parents of the students on the team say the trip has been in the works for about a year, and they want answers as to why it has been called off at the last minute.
To not go to nationals, it would be “well not tragic that’s like a hurricane,” Emmanuel Khodra, a fifth-grader at P.S. 70, says. “But it wouldn’t be right because we need to keep the tradition alive.” The Bombers have cleaned up in competitions over the last decade.
Parents blame Principal Kerry Castellano. They say she has already changed her mind about three times as to whether the children would be allowed to attend the tournament. Parents claim Castellano is using the trip to settle personal differences she has with the Chess Coordinator Jonathan Alejandro, who is also the chapter head of the teachers union.
The parents also say that money is not an issue. There is an anonymous donor, they say, who would pay the $15,000 for both the chess team and parents to attend the tournament.
Castellano defends her decision. She issued a written statement saying that she is in full support of the chess team, but is bound to all judicial responsibilities and protocols for the safety and well-being of students.
Alejandro countered this, saying that because of the anonymous donor, safety wouldn’t be an issue.
“He’s paying for each parent to go with each child. That way, the safety issue is resolved because you have the parent with you,” Alejandro says.
Parents and students hope Castellano will change her mind again before Thursday. They say it is still a possibility, because the reservations for the trip are already booked and the anonymous donor has already agreed to pay any late fees the team may have incurred.