De Blasio Boots Eva Moskowitz's Success Academy From Some Planned Sites
NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio has yanked the red carpet out from under Eva Moskowitz.
The controversial charter school leader, whose Success Academy schools spread to about two dozen locations across the city under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration, has been rejected from a plan to share space with three additional public schools this fall, officials said.
De Blasio axed Moskowitz's plan to move into the August Martin High School complex in Jamaica, Queens, and Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan, sources said. He also froze a plan to expand Success Academy Middle School to P.S. 149 in Harlem, officials said.
"We made clear from the outset we would carefully review all of the proposals rushed through in the waning days of the past administration," de Blasio said in a statement on Thursday. "We are taking the best possible path forward, rejecting those proposals that do not meet our values, and working with school communities on those proposals that can be implemented responsibly."
Moskowitz will still be allowed to open four charter schools inside other public schools as planned next fall: the Bronx's I.S. 131, I.S. 96 in Bensonhurst, P.S. 78 in Bergen Beach, and I.S. 59 Springfield Gardens in Queens, according to City Hall officials. She will also be allowed to relocate the Success Academy location currently housed inside P.S. 167 in Brooklyn into P.S. 161, officials said.
Eight charter schools not run by Success Academy were also cleared to move ahead:
• Mott Hall Charter School is clear to move into P.S. 63
• Girls Prep Charter School is moving into JHS 120
• Achievement First Charter School is moving into P.S. 299
• Explore Exceed Charter School is moving into I.S. 320
• The all-boys Eagle Academy is moving into I.S. 49
Moskowitz came under fire during the Bloomberg administration from critics both inside and outside the Education Department for what they called clear favoritism.
DNAinfo New York reported that Moskowitz's emails were returned almost instantaneously by education bigwigs during the Bloomberg administration, and that the DOE bent over backwards to accommodate her wishes.
De Blasio's decision drew cheers from teachers union boss Michael Mulgrew, and outrage from charter school parents and advocates.
“I’m glad the DOE has taken an important first step in vetoing some particularly troublesome pending co-locations. But the solution to Bloomberg’s destructive policies — including his two-minutes to-midnight attempt to lock in new co-locations on the new administration — is to give local schools and communities a real say on how their buildings are used,” Mulgrew said in a statement.
James Merriman, CEO of the New York City Charter School Center, wrote in a statement that de Blasio's decision was a "disappointment for the students and their parents who have been looking forward to attending the school of their choice this fall."
"All of these schools were ready to give children a rigorous education in safe environments; now it seems that they cannot," Merriman said. He added that he was "troubled" by the lack of transparency in the process.
"It is hard to believe that an administration that constantly urges stakeholder engagement did not hold one meeting with affected families before making these recommendations," he said. "I hope the Panel on Educational Policy insists on a more consistent approach and votes not to accept these recommendations."
At P.S. 241 in Harlem on 113th Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard where Success Academy Harlem 4 is co-located, parents were furious with De Blasio's decision.
Mame Ndiaye, a home health aide, said her fourth-grade son was scheduled to start at Success Academy Middle School at P.S. 149 next fall, but now she's not sure where he will go.
"Political decisions don't have any place when it comes to kids," said Ndiaye. "It's not fair because when these schools were bad, Eva Moskowitz came in and picked up the neighborhood."
Lakisha Evans, 35, a stay-at-home mom, said she was "devastated" by the news and wondered what would happen to her daughter, India, a second-grade student at Success Academy Harlem 4.
"I don't understand why he wants to keep our kids from learning," said Evans. "It's not fair that he's attacking charter schools."
India chimed in: "I love this school. I don't want to leave."
De Blasio defended his decision Thursday. "We are doing right by the most students and the most families," the mayor said. "Moving forward we will have a new approach in place that truly engages parents and the communities to ensure their voices are heard."
Earlier Thursday, Moskowitz threatened to sue the city if de Blasio shut down her planned sites.
“This would be tragic, unfair, and, we believe, illegal,” Moskowitz wrote in a letter obtained by the New York Post. “As soon as those rollbacks/reversals are announced, we will notify you and plan to take the appropriate legal action.”
Jeff Mays contributed reporting