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Success Academy Parents Join Eva Moskowitz to Announce Court Date for Challenging Mayor De Blasio’s Anti Pre-K Policies

April 29, 2016

Contact: Chapin Fay, (212) 681-1380

[email protected]

 Before oral arguments on May 5, parents speak of the hardships and Mayor’s illegal action

New York, NY — On the steps of City Hall today, Success Academy parents joined founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz to announce they will see the mayor in court. This latest round of legal action is to protect Success Academy’s popular pre-K program and protect charter schools’ freedom to innovate. The hearing, scheduled for May 5 in New York State Supreme Court, challenges Mayor de Blasio’s refusal to provide public funding to Success Academy pre-K.

“Success Academy is taking a stand against the bureaucracy that has crippled this city’s schools, and left hundreds of thousands of children at risk of never learning to read or do math,” said Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy. “Public charter schools are cutting through the red tape and delivering incredible outcomes for kids. The mayor’s double standard — sidestepping his own rules to fund pre-K programs with a history of mismanagement, while denying Success parents a choice — is unjustifiable.”

Earlier this week, reports found that in a rush to expand pre-K in 2014-15, Mayor de Blasio’s office had arranged for a nonprofit fund to loan $1.36 million to four private pre-kindergarten programs plagued by problems such as tax evasion and misuse of public funds.  Those four programs have since been discontinued.

 For eight months, Mayor de Blasio and his administration have withheld the funding because Success Academy will not sign a sweeping and onerous contract that violates state education law. The law specifically states that the charter school authorizer — not the Department of Education — is responsible for oversight of that school’s pre-K, and is not required to submit to DOE regulations as a condition of funding. Success Academy has produced exceptional outcomes for students by innovating — outside the boundaries of city bureaucracy — and is overseen by an outside agency.

Specifically, state education law states:

 “[C]harter schools shall be eligible to participate in universal full-day Pre-Kindergarten programs under this section, provided that all such monitoring, programmatic review and operational requirements under [§ 3602-ee] shall be the responsibility of the charter entity.”

Nearly 3,000 children were entered into the random admissions lottery for a Success Academy pre-K seat next year. Those children and families are hanging in the balance. Without funding, the network will shutter its pre-K program — leaving parents to scramble and forcing many to settle for district-run programs that don’t meet their needs.

“Our family doesn’t have the resources to send our children to an expensive private school. Neither do most other families,” said Jacqueline Banegas-Abreu, whose son is slated to attend pre-K at SA Cobble Hill next school year. “If this lawsuit does not succeed, I’ll probably have to do a lot of work with him at home — over the summer and at night -- to ensure he doesn’t already have an educational deficit at the early age of 3.”

The DOE contract would unnecessarily and illegally regulate Success pre-K classes down to the minute, arbitrarily veto rich educational field trips, and entitle the city to replace the school’s custom-designed curriculum with lessons of its choosing — on a whim.

“When my daughter had recent struggles with math, the teaching staff at Success was able to assist her immediately. They rearranged their schedules so they could tutor her in the mornings and after school,” said Latrice Thomas, whose son is on the waiting list for a Success Academy pre-K seat in Harlem. “Now, she is doing much better and every day I see her confidence grow.”

The New York City Charter School Center, an advocacy organization, and four other public charter schools have signed an amicus brief in support of the case.

Photos from today’s press conference are here



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, 15% are children with disabilities, and 8.5% are English language learners. 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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