Success Academy Queens Parents Declare Victory After 37-Month-Long Effort to Secure Middle School Space from the City
March 9, 2020
**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, MARCH 9, 2020**
Liz Baker, 646-904-4200
Ann Powell, 646-894-6407
#KidsOverPolitics Campaign Prevails: City Hall Offers Two Co-locations in Southeast Queens
New York, NY — It took three years, but the kids finally won. Late Thursday night, Success Academy Queens parents emerged victorious after months of advocating for their children’s right to public school space. With only hours to spare before a deadline that would have forced children back into the district system, Department of Education officials finally proposed two co-locations for the 227 fourth graders who are headed to middle school next year but previously had no middle school.
“I am so happy! I can’t wait to be a middle school scholar with a Chromebook and a locker!” said Dylan Sukh, fourth grader at Success Academy Far Rockaway, who joined his mom and advocated for a school by addressing the Panel for Education Policy at the February 26 meeting.
“I fought tooth and nail for a school for my son, and this morning I got to tell him that he won’t have to leave Success Academy next year,” said Giselle Valiente-Sukh, mom to Dylan Sukh. “Finally, it really is ‘kids over politics.’ I’m grateful to all the Success Academy parents who advocated on behalf of these scholars — they deserve nothing less than what is guaranteed to students at district schools.”
The two co-locations — one in Q053, where SA Far Rockaway is currently located, and the other at IS 238 Susan B. Anthony Middle School — are temporary (for two and one years, respectively). This means the city must still provide permanent space. While relieved to have a place for their children next year, parents vowed to stay the course until the city fulfilled its legal obligation.
Success Academy parents from four elementary schools have been actively advocating since July. In September, 4,000 parents, scholars and teachers gathered in Roy Wilkins Park for the Kids Over Politics rally. Collectively, they sent over 2,000 emails to Mayor de Blasio; met with Queens elected officials to secure their support; collected 13,000 signatures on a petition; held press conferences on the steps of City Hall; spoke at PEP meetings, CEC meetings, and a Queens Borough President candidate forum — all in an attempt to get the mayor to be accountable to their children.
“I am relieved and filled with so much gratitude that our kids will not be forced out of their schools,” said Jamaal Salah, a father of a SA Far Rockaway second grader. “This is a huge win for all our families that did not know where to turn to or if their child would even have a school next year. It has been a long process, but I’m thankful that we were able to get through to the mayor. However, the fight still continues! In two years, my daughter and hundreds of others won’t have a middle school based on the current conditions — we can’t let the mayor off the hook until we have a long-term, permanent solution.”
Salah and 90 other Success Academy parents with hand-painted signs of “KIDS OVER POLITICS” and “TIME IS RUNNING OUT” showed up at a Queens Town Hall earlier this week to press Chancellor Richard Carranza for a permanent middle school. As in the past, the Chancellor spoke positively while dodging specifics: “We are going to continue to engage with Success Academy on the long-term options. We’re also ready to work with them to secure a long-term plan for the Rockaways, and we expect a proposal later this week.” No long-term proposal has been made.
The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the co-located sites during its April 22 meeting.
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 of color from low-income households in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% receive free or reduced-price lunch, 94% are children of color, 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.