The first year, it is safe to say, has not passed without its share of problems at the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn. The school has gone through multiple principals and lawsuits and even an equal employment opportunity complaint, not to mention a change in location, since opening its doors as the city's only Arabic-themed school last September. Even the lone science teacher was recently ousted.
The biggest problem surrounding the school has no doubt been the removal of its founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, who resigned in August under enormous pressure, much of it from a chorus of critics who said she had a militant Islamic agenda.
Given the turmoil of the past year, it seemed curious to some of Khalil Gibran's parents that a party and fund-raiser for the school had been planned for Thursday night.
"The families deserve the school they were promised," said Donna Nevel, a member of Communities in Support of KGIA, an advocacy group that has demanded that Ms. Almontaser be reinstated.
On Tuesday, two days before the scheduled event, an e-mail message announced that the celebration would be postponed until the fall.
"We have reviewed the situation with several of our partners, our board and staff, and we have decided that now is not the time to proceed with the party," wrote Lena Alhusseini, executive director of the Arab-American Family Support Center, a social service agency that helped open the school and sponsored the fundraiser. Refunds were promised to those who had already paid the required $75 donation.
But for some involved with the school, the party's cancellation was merely the latest reminder of a year that had not gone anywhere close to as planned. With less than a week left in the school year, a group of parents have drafted a protest letter demanding changes in the school's leadership and curriculum — even though many of the parents have already decided to move their children to different schools in the fall.
"It doesn't bear any resemblance to what we were initially promised," said Susan O'Grady, the parent of a sixth grader at Khalil Gibran, which is the city's first school based on the theme of Arabic culture and language.
Ms. O'Grady said that she had started the year with high expectations, going so far as to picture her daughter in the high school graduating class of 2014, capable of reciting her commencement speech in Arabic. Since then, she has encountered increasingly dispirited teachers and distrustful administrators.
"Sadly, the school is a shadow of its former self," Ms. O'Grady said in an interview.
From the time the school was first proposed in 2007, the concept drew criticism, first from parents concerned about space shortages at neighboring schools and then from critics who questioned whether the school's emphasis on Arabic might somehow lend itself to helping militant Islamic causes.
Deborah Howard, who worked on the school's design committee, helped conceive of the vision of the school as a multicultural community and be a role model. Ms. Howard conceded that while most everyone involved in its conception knew it would elicit some problems, far fewer could have anticipated the groundswell of animosity that would ensue.
The cancellation of the event coincided with a letter that 16 parents, whose children attend Khalil Gibran, sent by e-mail to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg early Thursday morning. Had the fund-raiser gone through, some parents said, they would have passed out the letter, printed onto leaflets, in protest.
The letter listed several reasons the time was not right for celebration, but rather concern.
The letter complained, among other things, about the relocation of the school from 345 Dean Street in Boerum Hill to 50 Navy Street in Fort Greene, which many parents complained was far from public transportation; a decrease in the number of hours of Arabic-language instruction; disciplinary problems; and a general sense that parents were not welcome inside the school.
School officials acknowledge that the first year has been rough.
"The school had a difficult first year," said Melody Meyer, a spokeswoman for the Education Department. "But now that the school is moving into a new facility, the ingredients are there for a successful future."
Khalil Gibran's principal, Holly Anne Reichert, would not comment, though her leadership was repeatedly called into question in the letter drafted by parents.
New Visions for Public Schools, a nonprofit group that helps start city schools and who helped create Khalil Gibran, also declined to respond to specific complaints, citing the litigation.
"The principal has taken a number of steps to stabilize the school and we support those measures and look forward to the opening of the school in its new home," said Karen Crowe, a New Visions spokeswoman.
But enticing the 58 current sixth graders to return to the school, albeit in a new location, appears to be a hard sell.
"I won't be going back because trying to learn is hard when the classrooms are so chaotic," said Serena Fakir, 12, who estimated that more than half of her classmates have already decided not to enroll at Khalil Gibran as seventh graders.
Last spring, she said, she chose to attend Khalil Gibran because several members of her family speak Arabic and she, too, wanted to learn the language. Now, Serena said, she felt the problems and chaos were nearly behind her, with less than week left to go.
"I'm just glad I survived it," she said. "We should have a party for that."