4,000 Parents and Supporters Protest Mayor’s Neglect of Queen’s Students
admin – September 26, 2019
**For Immediate Release September 26, 2019**
4,000 PARENTS AND SUPPORTERS PROTEST MAYOR’S NEGLECT OF QUEENS STUDENTS
Refusing to Identify a Location for a Success Middle School, Mayor de Blasio Sparks Parent Ire; 227 Children of Color at Risk of Being Abandoned, Left Without an Educational Home
New York, NY — On Thursday, September 26, 4,000 Success Academy parents, staff, and scholars rallied at Roy Wilkins Park in St. Albans, Queens. Clad in orange T-shirts with the slogan #KidsOverPolitics and chanting “Parent Power,” families came from Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, South Jamaica, and Far Rockaway, to demand a response to their urgent need for a middle school from a mayor who has often expressed disdain for the public charter schools their children attend.
After more than two years of waiting for classrooms promised by the de Blasio administration in 2017, Queens families are anxious about their children’s educational future. “We are all here today to ask that the Mayor listen to his constituents and remind him that he has a responsibility to all kids,” Jamaal Salah, Success Academy Far Rockaway parent told the crowd.
Located in Districts 27 and 29, the five Queens Success Academies are among the state’s highest-achieving schools; they also rank in the top 15 of all Queens K-8 schools. There are 2,000 Queens scholars in the four Success elementary schools alone, and another 3,000 on this year’s waitlist. About 87% of students are children of color and 69% receive free and reduced-price lunch.
“The mayor has a double standard when it comes to charter school parents,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools. “They are public school parents, and their children deserve a space to learn.”
There are at least seven public school buildings in southeastern Queens with 450 to 1,000 empty seats each. After meeting with parents, several Queens elected officials have written to the mayor with alternative recommendations as well.
Success Academy first requested a middle school location in January of 2017, for the first class of SA Rosedale graduates, who needed a middle school for the 2018-19 school year. At the time, City Hall told Success representatives that a building would be available in 2019, but not before. As a compromise, Success agreed to combine incoming middle schoolers from Rosedale with their peers from Springfield Gardens for a temporary one-year solution.
Two years later, the de Blasio administration has still not honored its promise, and there is not enough space for all scholars graduating from the four elementary schools. While the administration recently began publicly repeating its promise of a Queens middle school for Success, no details — specific location, accommodations, even a timeline — have been released. After two years of waiting, parents are concerned and distrustful.
Without an additional middle school in Queens, 227 fifth graders will be forced to travel to other boroughs or leave Success Academy altogether next year. More than half of those 227 students are zoned to attend 36 of the most overcrowded schools in Southeast Queens. By refusing Success Academy a location for a middle school, the mayor will be hurting district students as well as Success scholars.
Like the DOE, Success Academy has a placement process for incoming middle schoolers that determines which school a scholar will attend. Parents rank their choice of middle schools, and priority is given to scholars with siblings and by their family’s geographic proximity to the school. Without a specific location for the additional Queens middle school, student placement cannot be determined. District families have known their options for months. But the Department of Education is withholding that information from these Queens parents.
“If you are an NYC public school parent, you know how rare it is to find a school that both you and your child love,” said Pershemia Milliard, Success Academy Far Rockaway parent. “That’s what we’ve found at Success. My husband and I are so worried — we will be heartbroken if our son has to leave.”
ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS
Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public K-12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 45 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 18,000 students, primarily children of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are students of color, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,000 applications for about 4,000 open seats for the 2019-20 academic year.