NY Post, and NY1.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Our new lawsuit on charter school co-locations filed today!
UPDATE: news of our lawsuit was covered in GothamSchools, NY Times blog, Daily News,
NY Post, and NY1.
NY Post, and NY1.
The press release below is pretty self-explanatory; we should have video soon. Here is the verified complaint ; here is a fact sheet showing where we got our estimates of the nearly $100 million in space and services that the co-located charter schools should be paying the NYC per year -- which could prevent most of the budget cuts and class size increases at schools expected next year.
After DOE found out about our press conference at Tweed at 1 PM, they programmed their own at a KIPP co-located charter at the exact same time to draw the media away; pretty sneaky! But we hope for good coverage anyway. The case was filed this afternoon in the State Supreme Court, Index no. 108538-2011.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2011
Mona Davids, NYC Parents Union, (917) 340-8987
Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters (917) 435-9329Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., Advocates for Justice, (917) 923-8136
New York City Parents File Lawsuit Against Separate and Unequal Charter Co-locations and Illegal Free Rent and Services to Charter Schools
The New York City Parents Union, Class Size Matters and public school parents today filed a lawsuit charging the New York City Department of Education with creating a "separate and unequal" education system through the co-locations of charter schools in public school buildings.
In New York City, charter schools are private non-profit education corporations which have contracts called "charters" with an authorizer such as the New York State Education Department or State University of New York to provide educational services. Charter schools are publicly funded but, to date, have usually been managed either by a for-profit corporation or by a non-profit corporation who has hired a for-profit corporation to assist with management. In these cases, a private entity is deriving a profit -- a profit that is not necessarily benefiting our children. The NYC Department of Education provides space and services to charter schools for $1 per year that according to state law should be charged “at cost”. Next year the amount of space and services provided by the city to co-located charters will be nearly $100 million per year. These are funds desperately needed by our public schools at a time of scarce resources and sharp budget cuts. (see attached fact sheet).
Arthur Z. Schwartz of Advocates for Justice, lead attorney in this litigation says: "For several years now the NYC Department of Education has done all that it can to promote charter schools, acting not only to bring them into existence, but providing them with resources far in excess of what children in non-charter schools receive. The most odious circumstances arise where schools are co-located. Today we are filing and serving a lawsuit which addresses the unlawful nature of the DOE's program. We are going far beyond a procedural challenge, alleging far more than that the DOE didn't follow the steps in the statutory process correctly. Today we raise three substantive challenges.
First, we are challenging to provision of free space and services to charter schools. There is no question that this action violates state law, providing an unlawful subsidy to co-located charter schools. It is a policy which allows them to spend their money on staff, supplies and equipment rather than rent and creates gross inequities between the charter schools and their building-mates, and between charter schools in their own facilities and co-located schools. We are also challenging the DOE on the impact of co-location on the education of the public school students in the building asserting that the co-locations will increase class size and undermine children's constitutional right to a sound and adequate education. Finally, we are challenging the co-location process, which is supposed to be a "meaningful public process" as being nothing of the sort: dominated by boilerplate documents, difficult for parents to understand, not properly translated, and issued beyond statutorily mandated deadlines. Parents’ views are solicited but ignored, and in the impact statements, inadequate attention is paid to children with disabilities and English language learners.
This is not an attack on charter schools. Our plaintiffs include charter school parents. It is an effort to force the NYC Department of Education to pay attention to the impact of its actions on public school students, and provide them with the education they have a right to."
Muba Yarofulani, Vice-President of New York City Parents Union and a parent plaintiff in the lawsuit, says: "Our public school children continue to be served in an educational system where quality and equal opportunity are not the norm. We will continue to fight to the end for equal access to a quality education for our public schoolchildren."
Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a citywide parent advocacy group which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says: "The New York charter school law clearly states that if a district chooses to provide space and services to charter schools, it must do so at cost; and yet the NYC Department of Education provides this to charters for $1 per year. Using figures from the Independent Budget Office, we estimate that the space and services DOE will provide to charters next year are worth nearly $96 million. These are funds that our public schools desperately need and could be used to prevent devastating budget cuts, the loss of teachers and sharply increased class sizes next year. As it is, each student in a co-located charter receives nearly $1000 more in public funding on average compared to a district public school student, a situation that is highly inequitable and needs to stop."
She adds: "We also believe that the co-location policy pursued by DOE and imposed on our public schools is deeply wrongheaded; as educrats use every available inch of space to jam a new school into a building; without any regard to how this will increase class size or prevent schools from being able to reduce class size in the future, which the state’s highest court said is necessary for NYC public schoolchildren to receive their constitutional right to an adequate education. And yet these damaging effects are nowhere reflected in the DOE’s Educational Impact Statements – a critical and potentially illegal flaw."
Faye Hodge, a parent plaintiff of a child who attends a charter school in private space says: "It is not fair that charter schools located in private space receive nearly $1,000 less than co-located charter schools. My charter school does not have enough books, does not provide academic intervention services, and cannot renovate our cafeteria or gym because we have to pay for rent, utilities, insurance, food service and cleaning services, while co-located charters are illegally subsidized by the New York City Department of Education. That is not fair. "
Mona Davids, the President of the New York City Parents Union, the President of the NY Charter Parents Association and a charter parent says, “We believe all children must have equal access to a quality public education. We respect the choice a few families made in removing their children from the public education system and enrolling them in publicly funded, but privately managed charter schools. However, public education is a cornerstone of our democracy and will always serve all children including children with disabilities, English Language Learners, homeless children, low performing students, and new immigrants. We must ensure all these children receive a quality public education and their rights are not violated by a separate and unequal system created by the New York City Department of Education.”