Eva Moskowitz Leads 300 Success Academy Parents, Athletes, and Coaches in Harlem Protest March
November 9, 2020
**For Immediate Release Tuesday, October 20 , 2020**
Sam Chafee, 401-368-5124
Parents Demand that Mayor de Blasio Stop Illegally Blocking Student Access to Sports; City Is Locking Kids Out of Their own Athletic Fields
New York, NY — Today, Eva Moskowitz led a protest march in Harlem with dozens of Success Academy parents, coaches, teachers, and students to demand that Mayor de Blasio unlock the gates of their schools’ athletic fields and courts, and let them practice. The city has directed DOE staff to change the locks to fields at SA Harlem North Central MS, and other school facilities in Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan where the network’s competitive basketball, soccer and track teams have been practicing. The city is trying to illegally charge Success Academy almost $500,000 for the use of school facilities and services, which they are entitled to by law, without payment.
Success set forth the applicable law in a letter to Chancellor Carranza. Carranza has not responded to the letter or provided any legal justification for the DOE’s actions.
Changing the locks to SA’s school buildings and fields constitutes an illegal eviction, and hurts 300 Success Academy student athletes who play on SA’s most competitive network teams. In response, parents, coaches, students and staff marched with signs proclaiming “Say No to Pay for Play” and “Kids Over Politics” while chanting “Let our kids play!”
“Instead of trying to fix the dysfunction of district schools, the Mayor is preventing hundreds of kids in Harlem and Bed-Stuy and the Bronx from using their schools’ athletic fields,” said Eva Moskowitz, Founder and CEO of Success Academy. “Now, more than ever, kids need sports for their social and emotional health, and I am not going to stand by and let the Mayor take this away from them.”
In addition to being illegal, the city’s actions are an oddly hostile response to SA’s offer to allow the DOE to use its classrooms in September, to help the city open district schools. As Athletics Director Boris Bozic noted, the athletic field at SA Harlem North Central, where a new padlock was installed by DOE last week, was renovated two years ago with charitable funds raised by SA and benefits all kids in the building. SA Harlem North Central shares space with P.S. 175.
“My friends and I love the game of soccer. We have big dreams — I want to be a pro player,” said Moussa Daho, an eighth grader at SA Harlem North Central and captain of the U14 soccer team. “I need to train to make that happen. We can’t lose an entire year. It feels like my dream is in danger of being crushed if I can’t come back to practice.”
The teams attempting to practice are part of Success Academy’s network athletics program, which pulls top scholar athletes from across its network of 47 schools, has a total of 28 athletic teams: 6 basketball, 4 track, and 18 soccer teams. Scholar athletes range between 9 years of age through 17 (HS boys team). There are currently 300 scholars athletes actively participating in sports from approximately 20 SA schools. There are a total of 4 soccer teams participating in local competitions including SA Harlem North Central’s U14B team, which was featured in this documentary. Many of the players have the potential to score scholarships, but this could be jeopardized if they can’t continue to practice or their season gets cut short.
The fields that the DOE has illegally evicted students from are all collocated with district schools. They are part of the facilities at:
- SA Harlem North Central Middle School
- SA Harlem 4
- SA Harlem East Middle School
- SA Upper West
- SA Bed Stuy 1 and SA Bed Stuy Middle School (which share a field)
- SA Myrtle Middle School
- SA Bronx 1
ABOUT SUCCESS ACADEMY
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 47 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 20,000 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. In 2020, 100% of SA’s third and largest class of 99 graduating seniors were accepted to college, with 22% accepted to highly selective and 47% to selective institutions, with robust financial aid packages; 82% of the class will be the first in their families to attend college.
For more information about Success Academy, go to successacademies.org.