Harlem Parents Vow to Fight Charter School Expansion
By Jeff Mays
HARLEM — Parents of students at two school buildings where Harlem Success Academy will be allowed to expand said they planned to fight the decision made by the Panel for Education Policy.
The decision, which followed a raucous meeting filled with more than 2,000 people at Brooklyn Technical High School, means that Harlem Success Academy will be allowed to add a sixth grade at the West 118th Street building it shares with Sojourner Truth School in the coming year.
Eventually, the school would add seventh and eighth grades and expand into a new building on West 114th Street that is currently occupied by Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing Arts and Frederick Douglass Academy II.
"I feel that our interests were not represented at that panel. The panel was appointed by Bloomberg, including the parents, and they were not representative of the Harlem community," said parent Kim Austin, whose daughter is an 11th grader at Frederick Douglass Academy II. "We are going to file a formal appeal, protest and do whatever we need to do."
Tatianna Davis' daughter will graduate from Wadleigh this year and plans to attend college in the fall.
"I'm disheartened but glad my children are coming out of the public schools because parents have no say," said Davis. "I know it was a done deal at the first meeting no matter how we speak out as parents."
Davis said she is concerned that the merger with the charter school was the first step toward closing Wadleigh.
"I'm not against charters because parents need choice," Davis said. "But it seems there is more emphasis on charter schools than public schools. We are a performing arts school and we have the potential to do a lot for our community."
Anthony Klug, a social studies teacher at Wadleigh, said teachers there were upset that the changes were approved.