- NYC charter schools enroll many fewer special needs and English Language Learner students than NYC public schools, as documented in the State Report Cards and in NYC Department of Education’s data. In a recently published analysis, we see that just 7% of students at charters in NYC were English Language Learner students, as compared to 14.4% in true or “traditional” NYC public schools. Similarly, just 14.7% of students at charters in NYC have special needs, as compared to 21.4% in true or “traditional” NYC public schools. At Harlem Success 1-3, where the proposed school leader of “Zeta” was trained, in recent years the percent of students with disabilities ranged from 12.6 -13%, the percentage of ELL students ranged from 4.1-7.1%, and the economic need index averaged .69 – far below other nearby schools. The average public school in NYC serves fifteen times the concentration of highest need special education students compared to Success Academy charters.
- In addition to under-enrolling students with special needs and learning English, who often underperform as compared to their peers on state standardized tests, charters lose their students at an alarming rate. Again, using publicly available data for analysis, we see that in 2007 Success Academy Harlem I enrolled 73 students in the first grade. Today, as they enter the 11th grade, this class now contains just 18 students. Where do these students go and why do they leave?
- The Independent Budget Office (IBO) has found that NYC charters have higher levels of attrition for students with disabilities. In recent years, many documented stories of children with special needs being pushed out and/or illegally suspended from NYC charter schools, without due process, have been published. Some charters have suspension rates two to three times that in the surrounding district schools.
- According to DOE discipline code, students in NYC public schools can only be expelled if they are in general education classes, and have turned 17 prior to the beginning of the school year. Yet the SUNY charter Institution notes in a renewal document for Harlem Success 2 that the “implementation of the expulsions does not align with stated policy language,” though it did not reveal how many students were expelled. As to Success Academy suspensions, the Institute writes, “It was unclear that live instruction was consistently provided in accordance with New York’s compulsory education law.”
- Charter schools siphon resources from traditional public schools. Currently the DOE budget for charters surpassed $2 billion per year. According to state law, if charters are not given space in public school buildings, the city must provide funds for them to rent their own space, which further diminishes the resources available to our local public schools.
- According to the IBO, the two thirds of charter school students in co-located buildings receive more in per pupil funding than public school students, when their free space and services are taken into account. Since the new requirement that NYC provide free space for every new charter, these inequities have grown even worse.