New York’s Highest Court Confirms Success Academy’s Right to Operate Pre-K
Success Academy – November 20, 2018
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, NOVEMBER 20, 2018**
Anne Michaud, 914-712-8693
NEW YORK’S HIGHEST COURT CONFIRMS SUCCESS ACADEMY’S RIGHT TO OPERATE PRE-K
Huge victory for New York City families and charter sector, as judges say education bureaucracy can’t force invasive directives, starve classrooms of funding.
New York, NY — New York’s highest court handed a victory today to Success Academy Charter Schools, and New York City families in general. The Court ruled that the New York City Department of Education cannot micromanage charter school pre-K programs but must allow them to function independently, as the law provides.
The decision concludes a 3-year legal battle Success Academy — which was represented pro bono by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP — waged on behalf of families who want an innovative and transformative program for their youngest scholars. The courts have delivered justice, so that, at last, the de Blasio administration’s “Pre-K for All” slogan literally means pre-K for all children — including charter school children.
“De Blasio’s illegal attempt to micromanage our pre-K program reflects his fundamental antipathy to the charter school concept,” said Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz. “He wants to dictate how we run our program because he believes public education should be a government monopoly that he controls.”
In a further attempt to deny parents choice, the DOE is now prohibiting charter schools from applying to the department for pre-K funding.
Success Academy launched its public pre-K program in 2015-16, and had received 3,000 applications for pre-K alone for the following year. But city officials moved to try to regulate how Success conducted pre-K by demanding Success Academy sign a 241-page contract (including appendices) filled with invasive directives. Success Academy fought back, asking the State Education Department to intervene. Although SED sided with Mayor de Blasio, five judges at the Appellate Division delivered a unanimous decision in favor of Success Academy in June 2017.
In an attempt to further delay, the City tried to appeal that ruling in July 2017 and again in September 2017, which was denied today.
The court ruled plainly that the DOE does not get to share oversight authority with a charter school’s authorizer, in this case, SUNY. The law says that “all monitoring, programmatic review and operational requirements . . . shall be the responsibility of the charter entity” (page 12 of the opinion, quoting N.Y. Educ. Law § 3602-ee(12)).
Because of the dispute, Success Academy was not reimbursed $720,000 in per-pupil funding for the first year of operation and was forced to close pre-K after one school year. The Court of Appeals said today that these funds should be paid to Success Academy, with interest.
Hundreds of New York City children missed out on pre-K education at Success Academy over the past three years because of this legal battle. Unfortunately, this court decision comes too late for Success Academy to offer pre-K for the 2019-20 school year. However, it’s a victory for younger children and their families that the courts have overturned Mayor de Blasio’s ideologically-driven obstruction.
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 47 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 17,000 students, primarily children from low-income minority households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are minorities, 16% have disabilities, and 8% are English language learners. Success Academy schools received more than 17,700 applications for 3,288 open seats for the 2018-19 academic year.