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Success Academy Keeps 200 Students Home After Gas Leak at Queens Site

By Amy Zimmer | January 26, 2016 1:40pm
 Eva Moskowitz at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. The CEO of Success Academy said the city needs to
Eva Moskowitz at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival. The CEO of Success Academy said the city needs to "act fast" to fix its building in Rosedale.
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QUEENS — Success Academy in Rosedale suspended all classes on Tuesday, a day after they say National Grid workers found 11 leaks in the building's gas pipes — even though FDNY inspectors had declared the building safe.

The incident began at approximately 2 p.m. Monday, when teachers inside 147-65 249th Ave. smelled gas and evacuated the building, according to the charter.

The Fire Department, which was first to arrive at the school, checked the building and deemed it safe, according to Success Academy Rosedale. FDNY allowed everyone back inside 20 minutes later, charter officials said.

But when National Grid arrived hours later, its workers found multiple leaks in the pipes and basement heating unit. A total of 11 separate ruptures were discovered, including one as long as 4 inches, the school said.

The school remained closed Tuesday, telling its more than 200 kindergarten through second graders to stay home.

“This is a terrible inconvenience for families, but we cannot risk an explosion,” Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, said in a statement. “The city needs to act fast to fix the structural problems in the building and guarantee the safety of all children and staff.” 

Success Academy officials pointed out that the Rosedale school was one of three charters that Mayor Bill de Blasio was forced to pay to provide private space for in 2014, after first denying them co-located space in public school buildings.

The school is housed in the former St. Pius X Elementary School, which the city leased and renovated, the charter network said.

FDNY officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Officials from the Department of Education said they immediately responded‎ to the incident and were working closely with National Grid to swiftly address it.

The DOE proposed a relocation site on Monday, department officials said, noting that the charter elected instead to keep their students home.

The DOE will continue to support the school in providing an alternate location for students if the leak isn't resolved Tuesday, department officials added.

Success Academy has been embroiled in ongoing conflicts with the city and state, most recently as the target of a SUNY investigation into the charter network’s disciplinary policy as well facing accusations from parents who filed a formal complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights that the network discriminated against students with disabilities.