Success Academy Parents: “We Will Not Be Ignored”
December 10, 2019
**For Immediate Release December 10, 2019**
SUCCESS ACADEMY PARENTS: “WE WILL NOT BE IGNORED”
70 Success Academy Queens Parents Gather on Steps of City Hall to Demand ‘Appropriate and Comparable’ Facilities, as Prescribed by Law
New York, NY — Seventy Success Academy parents traveled from southeast Queens to the steps of City Hall this morning to protest Mayor de Blasio’s delay in identifying a permanent middle school location for students graduating from four Queens Success Academy elementary schools.
Five mothers spoke on behalf of the 3,500 parents of Success Queens scholars.
“Hearing our parents speak makes me a little emotional,” said Pershemia Milliard, a Success Academy Far Rockaway mom and second-grade teacher at SA South Jamaica. “A few months ago my son stood on these steps, and after, he told me, ‘Mommy, the mayor walked right by me.’ My son thinks Mayor de Blasio doesn’t want him to go to school because won’t give him a middle school.”
“Our hope for our children is to give them opportunities we, as parents, were never afforded,” said Sandrian Campbell, mom to two scholars at SA Rosedale. “That’s why we’re out here on a rainy Tuesday fighting for our children’s right to a great education.”
“Mr. Mayor, you talk about equality all the time. But it’s equal for some, it’s not equal for us,” said Itan Okhiria-Onipede, an SA Springfield Gardens mom.
“At the town hall last month, my daughter asked Mayor de Blasio, ‘You promised us a middle school. Where is the space?’ The mayor lied to my daughter,” said Osa Igbinqduwa, mom to three scholars at SA South Jamaica. “He failed to tell her that next year she will have to come back and fight for more space. Why?”
“Mayor de Blasio, I want you to treat my child the same way you would want someone to treat your children. We are all New Yorkers and we are all Americans, but Queens always feels abandoned,” said Giselle Valiente-Sukh, mom to a fourth grader at SA Far Rockaway.
Last month, Success Academy parents rejected Mayor de Blasio’s proposal of a small, aging Catholic school as inadequate and not comparable to Department of Education facilities. The building, which the city claimed could house 500 students, has about half the square footage that district school students are provided, lacks a gym or auditorium, and would require many millions of dollars of repairs to be useable. According to church officials, the previous occupant, Our Lady’s Catholic Academy, enrolled about 250 students. Success scholars would outgrow the space in a year.
State law requires the city to offer new and expanding charters space in public buildings that is comparable to that of district schools, or to provide a private space at no cost to the charter.
Unless action is taken, 227 children will be forced to leave Success Academy, where they are thriving. More than half of these displaced public school students would go to their zoned schools — into 36 of the most overcrowded district schools in southeast Queens. There are six public school buildings in southeast Queens with hundreds of empty seats – any one of which the city could use to serve these students. Collectively, there are 3,700 available seats in this area of Queens; Success needs space for about 600 students. (See detailed analysis of available space in Queens school buildings here.)
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.
For more information about Success Academy, go to successacademies.org.