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Office of Emergency Management Must Be Put in Charge of Reopening Union Square School

March 1, 2016

Contact: Dan Bank, (212) 681-1380

[email protected]

Department of Education continues to fail in its response to electrical fire that has disrupted the education of more than 2,000 city students

New York, NY ― Five days after an electrical explosion at a city building forced the closure of Success Academy Union Square and five other schools, the Department of Education’s inept response reached a new low. Officials in charge of getting the building back to normal began changing their story on when the necessary parts would be delivered to fix the power. With the DOE’s inability to stick to a timetable, failure to install generators and general apathy regarding children’s education and parent inconvenience, authority must be transferred over to the Office of Emergency Management immediately.

“The DOE’s response proves that they are not concerned with the educational well-being of students,” said Eva Moskowitz. “If learning were a top priority, the department would have taken immediate steps to restore power. Instead, they have mismanaged the situation, and the only resolution is for the Mayor to treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves, and assign the Office of Emergency Management to take over.”

 The bureaucratic dysfunction at the DOE is now causing students to lose valuable instruction time in the classroom. Yet, Chancellor Fariña remains silent in responding to the problem, refusing to meet with Success parents who have been left in the dark by her department’s dereliction of duty. And now, DOE officials are hiding behind an unrealistic offer to relocate Success Academy’s 350 students to a space with only 7 classrooms.

 The DOE appears unable to comprehend that our 350 scholars cannot just be warehoused in another school that lacks the space and technological resources necessary to provide them with a high-quality education.

Schools affected by Thursday’s fire include Gramercy Arts High School, International High School, Academy for Software Engineering, High School for Language and Diplomacy, the Union Square Academy for Health and Sciences, and Success Academy Union Square.



Founded in 2006, Success Academy Charter Schools are free public pre-k through 12 schools open to all children in the state through a random lottery. With 34 schools across Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, Success Academy enrolls 11,000 students, primarily low-income children of color in disadvantaged neighborhoods: 74% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch, 95% are children of color, 13% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. Ranked in the top 1% in math and the top 3% in English on 2015 state proficiency tests, Success Academy schools received more than 22,000 applications for fewer than 2,300 open seats last year. Two Success Academy schools, Success Academy Harlem 1 and Harlem 3, have been honored as National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, the only Harlem schools in the last 25 years to receive this prestigious award.

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