Williamsburg Parents Rail Against Plan to Share Space With Charter School

By Meredith Hoffman on January 12, 2012 12:48pm 

About 40 parents came to JHS 50 to discuss their concerns about Success Academy's proposed co-location.
About 40 parents came to JHS 50 to discuss their concerns about Success Academy's proposed co-location.
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DNAinfo/Meredith Hoffman

WILLIAMSBURG —  Dozens of parents from a Williamsburg junior high school opposed to a controversial charter school slated to move into their building in the fall met Wednesday night to form a united front against what they call an encroachment on their kids.

Parents from JHS 50 public school have been up in arms since the Education Department announced that an outpost of Eva Moskowitz' Success Academy Charter School was set to enter the building on South Third Street and Driggs Avenue in fall 2012.

Critics say the charter school does not address the underlying problems that are affecting the area's public schools: namely, a lack of resources and support.

JHS 50, a high-needs school that earned a C on its DOE ranking last year, serves students in grades 6 - 8. The Academy for Young Writers public high school, which currently shares JHS 50's building, is set to leave in the fall.

Opponents of the charter school, which has pitted parents against one another  added that there are already three elementary schools in the vicinity — P.S. 16, P.S. 17, P.S. 19, P.S. 84 — are all located within a 10 block radius.

"There are already plenty other elementary schools," said Maribel Rodriguez, whose daughter is in sixth grade at JHS 50.

The Williamsburg comunity board also threw their support against Success Academy, voting in opposition to the DOE's plan. The Department of Education announced in December that it had approved the plan for the school to move into the building in fall 2012.

Teacher Denise Mendoza said the DOE should focus more of their efforts into shoring up JHS 50.

"Why not give more money to our school?" said Mendoza, 32, also a former student of the school. "Why not take care of the students here already?"

Kerri Lyon, spokeswoman for Success Academy Charter Schools, has emphasized that the elementary charter school answers a need in the community, and that a group of neighborhood parents solicited her network to open a school in Williamsburg. The network already includes nine schools, and has met opposition in Harlem and the Upper West Side.

She said the charter, beginning with grades K—1, will grow one grade each year to extend through middle school eventually. Success plans to house grades 5—8 in another nearby building.

"This network has a vision of giving students more options," she said, noting that she school would include diverse students from all over the district.

The Department of Education will hold a hearing at Junior High School 50 on January 17 at 6 pm to hear arguments for and against Success Academy.

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