Success Academy Files Lawsuit Against the City for Illegally Barring Students from Their Own Sports Fields
November 9, 2020
**For Immediate Release Tuesday, October 27 , 2020**
Sam Chafee, 401-368-5124
New York Education Law Clearly States that a ‘School District Shall Permit Any Charter School Granted Approval to Co-locate, to Use Such Services and Facilities Without Cost’ ‘‘
New York, NY — Today, Success Academy filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County to request a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the New York City Department of Education from preventing 300 scholar athletes to access their own playing fields, in rebuke of the city’s unlawful demand of several hundred thousand dollars in fees.
As specified by New York Education Law §2853, payment to access school grounds or services is prohibited: a “school district shall permit any charter school granted approval to co-locate, to use such services and facilities without cost.” New York Education Law further clarifies that “services and facilities” include “use of a school building and grounds, the operation and maintenance thereof.” Moreover, the law expressly forbids charging fees to use school buildings or grounds in connection with “recreation, physical training and athletics.”
The legislative intent of these provisions is clear – athletics should be free to all schoolchildren, whether district or charter. Athletics are not only an integral part of Success Academy’s whole child curriculum, but are also especially critical now when children are being socially and physically isolated.
The city’s decision to charge fees for “sanitizing” the athletic fields is not only fallacious, it’s a violation of state law. No cleaning or sanitizing is required; practice is outdoors so school buildings aren’t affected. Furthermore, the DOE’s claim that it “had to make the hard decision to raise after school fees across the board for public schools, community-based programs, and charter schools” is misleading. Any fees “charged” to its own district schools is not an actual payment by that school. All funding for district schools is part of one budget managed by the city; the city is not receiving additional funds from individual district schools — it’s simply making an accounting notation. No money changes hands.
Last week, SA parents, staff and athletes held a protest outside the locked gates of the field at SA Harlem North Central.
“Even in a pandemic, the mayor must uphold the law,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “He must contain his hostility toward charter parents and treat our athletes fairly.”
The children 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 elite scholars athletes actively participating in SA Network teams from 20 different schools. There are a total of 4 soccer teams participating in local competitions including the teams 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.