De Blasio starts his war on charter schools
By Frank Rosario and Carl Campanile
February 27, 2014 | 2:11pm
Mayor de Blasio brought down the hammer Thursday on three charter schools operated by nemesis Eva Moskowitz, leaving hundreds of kids without classrooms this fall.
“This has to be the saddest day for the Success Academy’s children, family, teachers, school leaders,” Moskowitz said after meeting with stunned charter parents in Harlem.
“Right now, our kids are being evicted. Evicted out of their school. It’s wrong and we need an explanation. You’re going to have to ask Mayor Deblasio what the motivations are for a decision that will hurt so many children now and, frankly, forever.”
Fulfilling a campaign pledge to limit charter expansions within public school buildings, de Blasio revoked approvals granted last year by the Bloomberg administration to two new Success Academy schools and to a third that planned to expand.
At the mayor’s behest, the Department of Education conducted a review of 45 “co-locations” where multiple schools share a single building — including 19 charters.
It revoked nine of the arrangements covering six public schools and the three charters, which all carried Moskowitz’s Success Academy banner.
Left to fend for themselves were:
• A planned elementary charter that was going to open within the August Martin HS complex in Jamaica, Queens, with 200 kindergarten and first graders starting in September.
• A K-4 charter slated for Murry Bergtraum HS near City Hall.
• New fifth and sixth grade students hoping to attend Success Academy IV middle school classes at the PS 149/Sojourner Truth building on West 118the Street, which was put off limits.
Success Academy IV is the highest performing middle school in Harlem and among the best in the city.
Moskowitz called on Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature to undo de Blasio’s actions.
“We need political leadership,” she said.
“We need someone who will put kids ahead of politics. We are a public school. Public schools do not pay rent. And we cannot have a discriminatory policy. Kids are kids are kids. They must be treated equally whether they are in a district public school or a charter public school.”
She vowed to sue the mayor to win back the lost space.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s office also told a fourth charter school, American Dream Charter in the South Bronx , that it would be getting less space inside The Bronx’s PS 30 — reducing its enrollment by 25 to 33 percent.
The school caters to immigrants with limited English proficiency.
Charter advocates were livid.
New York Charter School Center CEO James Merriman blasted de Blasio’s team for acting without consulting charter parents.
“It is hard to believe that an administration that constantly urges stakeholder engagement did not hold one meeting with affected families before making these recommendations,” he said.
The chancellor’s office provided alternative sites — “better matches” for three of the six affected traditional public schools.
After bumping the Success Academy elementary charter from the Murry Bergtraum site, the administration set aside the space for two new high schools.
“We do not believe new elementary schools should be opened on high school campuses,” said Department of Education spokesman Devon Pugia.
While three Success Academy locations were rejected, education officials emphasized that five others were approved.
De Blasio insisted the rollbacks were done fairly and were not a vendetta against Moskowitz, who he has singled out in the past as getting special treatment.
“There’s no way in hell Eva Moskowitz shoul;d get free rent, OK?” de Blasio said last June during the mayoral race.
The mayor pointed out that he could have come down harder than he did.
“Some of her schools were approved and others were not,” he said.
“We were handed a series of last-minute moves by the Bloomberg administration approving a number of co-locations in a way that I feel was ill-advised. There are certain cases where we’ve said we simply can’t go forward with those co-locations.”
De Blasio insisted that the decisions are “doing right by the most students and the most families.”
The administration previously redirected $210 million in capital funds from charters to pre-K expansion and other initiatives.
Charter critics applauded the crackdown.
“I never supported co-locations — ever. Eva Moskowitz got away with murder for so long,” said Bertha Lewis, former ACORN head and co-founder of the Working Families Party.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a mayoral ally, complained that de Blasio didn’t go far enough.
“I am concerned that the vast majority of co-locations approved by the previous administration will be moving forward as proposed,” she said.http://nypost.com/2014/02/27/de-blasio-administration-halts-expansion-of-success-academy-charter-schools/