Success Academy to File Lawsuit Against the DOE for Illegally Denying Students Access to Their Own Sports Fields
November 9, 2020
**For Immediate Release Wednesday, October 22 , 2020**
Sam Chafee, 401-368-5124
NY Education Laws Forbids Charging Fees to Use School Buildings or Grounds in Connection with ‘Recreation, Physical Training and Athletics’
New York, NY — Moussa Daho, an 8th grade captain of Success Academy’s U14 Boys Network Soccer Team has been playing soccer since first grade, and he dreams of playing professionally. Those dreams turned to nightmares in early October, when Mayor de Blasio moved to block him and 300 other SA athletes from using their own fields and basketball courts for practice. To protect their athletes’ access to facilities guaranteed by New York State law, Success Academy announced today that it is filing a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education for its unlawful demand of approximately $500,000 in fees to allow SA students to access their own playing fields.
The basis for the lawsuit is simple: payment to access school grounds or services is against N.Y. Education Law, which states that a “school district shall permit any charter school granted approval to co-locate, to use such services and facilities without cost.” The 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.
On Tuesday, Moussa let his voice be heard at the protest where hundreds of parents, students and coaches gathered outside the locked gates of the field at SA Harlem North Central.
“The mayor shouldn’t be levying fees on the backs of kids,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “He seems to care more about bailing out the Reliant bus company than ensuring the well being of our city’s children athletes.”
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 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.