BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A new Success Academy is slated to open in Bedford-Stuyvesant after the city approved the charter school’s co-location with an existing elementary and middle school.
The green light from the Department of Education for Success Academy at P.S. 25 came despite concerns from parents that there are too many charter schools in Bed-Stuy’s School District 16 and that charters could negatively impact the progress of traditional public education.
The DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy approved the proposal on Wednesday with eight members voting in favor and three against, according to DOE officials.
Success Academy will open at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year, sharing a building with the elementary and middle school students of P.S. 25 at 787 Lafayette Ave., near Marcus Garvey Boulevard.
The charter school is initially expected to serve up to 170 kids in kindergarten and first grade, adding a grade level per year until it reaches a total of up to 450 by 2019, according to the DOE.
"Success Academy is excited to open a new location in District 16, where more than 500 families applied for a seat last year,” a spokesman for the charter network said.
“We look forward to helping more Bed-Stuy parents choose a high-quality school for their children."
Many parents criticized the move when it was first proposed, with some saying there would be consequences to district schools.
Community Education Council 16 submitted a letter to the PEP prior to the vote, expressing concern that there are too many charter schools in the district and that charters should reflect the neighborhood’s needs, particularly those of special education and homeless students.
Local parent group Bed-Stuy Parents Committee also sent a letter, echoing the CEC’s worries and saying that “the district’s traditional public schools will need time and space to grow.”
The latest location brings a total of five Success Academy sites in Bed-Stuy, though not all are in District 16.
The DOE recently approved another Success Academy at P.S. 297, despite opposition from parents and educators who said the co-location could rob their school of space used by special needs students.
In their analysis, DOE officials said they believed that the new Success Academy at P.S. 25 would be able to create productive and collaborative partnerships with the existing school communities and that the network’s schools in Brooklyn serve predominantly black and Hispanic students, those eligible for free and reduced price lunch and students with disabilities.
The charter network came under fire this week with a new complaint accusing them of discriminating against students with special needs.
Parents allege that Success Academy doesn’t provide proper accommodations for kids with disabilities and tries to force them out of the schools.
Success Academy Founder Eva Moskowitz released the following statement Wednesday:
"We provide 11,000 students, including over 1,400 special needs students, with an excellent education and have thousands more students on our waiting lists. We are disappointed that these 13 families do not feel the needs of their children were met."
A spokeswoman for SUNY, which licenses charter schools, could not comment on the complaint and its effect on future practices for the opening of a new Success Academy.
Regarding parents’ worries of too many charters, the spokeswoman explained that if there wasn’t demand for charter schools in the district, they wouldn’t be able to open and sustain sufficient enrollment in the areas.
The DOE also said that eight charter schools are currently located in District 16, compared to 29 district schools, and 2015-2016 enrollment places 5,122 students in traditional schools and 3,964 in charters.
The agency will continue to analyze district needs and present proposals aimed at improving the quality of the area’s schools, according to its analysis.
In light of Wednesday’s approval and the complaint filed against Success Academy, CEC16 said they will call on DOE, SUNY, and elected officials to ensure that all the district’s students, particularly those with specials needs, are adequately served.