Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Meets with Families of Evicted Success Academy Students
Success Academy – July 12, 2018
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JULY 12, 2018**
Anne Michaud, 914-712-8693
Will Chabot, 518-788-8685
BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT ERIC ADAMS MEETS WITH FAMILIES OF EVICTED SUCCESS ACADEMY STUDENTS
After Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza Snub Parents’ Push to Keep Space for Diverse Middle School, Borough President Urges to Take “Unique Approach” to Allow School to Open
BROOKLYN, NY — On Thursday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams met with families of students who were evicted from their Success Academy middle school by the Department of Education in June. The DOE claims Success Academy Lafayette, which was set to open in August in the exact same classroom space previously occupied by a Success elementary school, now needs approval by the Panel for Educational Policy because a court order requires another school in the building to remain open. BP Adams and City Council Member Robert Cornegy, Jr. have both written to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza, urging him to allow Success Academy to continue to co-locate in the building it has shared with P.S. 25 for the past two years (see letters here).
As BP Adams noted in his letter:
“There are many families needlessly facing uncertainty regarding their children’s school location in the 2018-19 school year. While I understand the need for the court to keep P.S. 25 open while the lawsuit progresses, it does not follow that the students and families of Success Academy have to be in limbo this summer.”
The City approved the closure of P.S. 25 in February, leaving Success as the only school in a building that accommodates 1,000 students — and eliminating the requirement of an Educational Impact Statement (EIS), Building Utilization Plan (BUP), or approval from the Panel for Educational Policy. It was only in late May that a court order required the DOE to keep P.S. 25 open temporarily while a lawsuit opposing the school closure proceeds. The court’s order — as Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged at a recent Town Hall — only relates to P.S. 25 and has nothing to do with the Success Academy location in the building.
As BP Adams further notes:
“[F]orcing the school, at this late date, to wait until an Educational Impact Statement (EIS) or a Building Utilization Plan (BUP) is approved by the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) is only making an unexpected situation worse. The lawsuit has created a unique circumstance that calls for a unique approach to allow this school to open at P.S. 25 in the fastest and fairest way possible.”
One obvious approach would be for Chancellor Carranza to use a common administrative power — an emergency declaration — to allow Success Academy to continue to use the space, which is a simple repurposing of elementary school classrooms for middle schoolers. No additional space was requested by Success, and there are 900 empty seats in the building. In fact, Chancellor Carranza issued such an emergency declaration in June to relocate a school in the Bronx (pdf attached). The emergency approval of Success Academy Lafayette would give the DOE time to issue a new Educational Impact Statement and secure formal approval from the PEP in the fall.
Borough President Adams’ meeting with families is a sharp counterpoint to Chancellor Carranza’s non-response to Success parents’ request to meet with him.
While Chancellor Carranza met with parents of “a failing Harlem school” in May as reported in the New York Times on July 6, the DOE has told Success parents the schools chief was too busy to meet with them. When the chancellor was dismissive of parents’ questions during a Town Hall in Brooklyn on June 13, SA Lafayette families started a petition requesting a meeting and also began phoning in questions to Mayor Bill de Blasio during his regular Friday appearance on the Brian Lehrer Show. More than 6,000 parents have signed the petition and more than 1,000 calls have been made to the mayor’s office. No meeting with the chancellor has been offered.
“It’s very important for our kids to stay in a stable environment, and Success Academy is a stable environment,” said Debra Dunham, grandmother of a 4th-grade graduate scheduled to attend Success Academy Lafayette Middle School. “We love the school — the chancellor really should hear our concerns.”
At a time when many educators and elected officials are focused on how to integrate the City’s highly segregated school system, the mayor and chancellor are subverting a middle school that is both diverse and high-performing. The fifth graders slated to attend SA Lafayette Middle School are a diverse group: 63% black, 16% Hispanic, 16% white, and 5% other; about two-thirds are economically disadvantaged. Collectively, they have a strong achievement record: 98% passed state math exams last year, and 96% passed ELA. Their parents chose this school as part of Success Academy’s placement process, and many of them have waited three years for the City to fulfill a promise of a permanent space.
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 46 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls more than 15,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are children of color, 16% are children with disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 0.3% in math and the top 1.4% in English on 2017 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 17,700 applications for 3,288 open seats this year.