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De Blasio Blocks Expansion Of 3 City Charter Schools

A pro-charter school rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn
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A pro-charter school rally at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn Jake Dobkin/Gothamist

Mayor de Blasio has made no secret of his stance on city charter schools, and after slashing $210 million from charter schools' budget, he's announced a plan to stop three Success Academy charter schools from expanding into public school building space.

Last year, erstwhile Mayor Bloomberg approved a plan allowing charter schools to move into and operate out of city buildings for no rent; but de Blasio has put the kibosh on this plan, moving to block three Success Academy charter schools run by former City Council Member Eva Moskowitz, from taking the space. "We are turning the page on the divisive policies of the past,” the mayor said in a statement, arguing that allowing the schools to expand would have forced public schools to cut back on programs and classrooms. “We will have a new approach in place that truly engages parents and the communities to ensure their voices are heard."

De Blasio's move will prohibit a new charter school from opening in Jamaica, Queens; it will also keep fifth and sixth grade charter school students out of a West 118th Street public school space and freezes another elementary school from opening in the Murry Bergtraum High School in Lower Manhattan. Moskowitz has threatened to sue the mayor's administration if he manages to kick the schools out of the space. "This would be tragic, unfair, and, we believe, illegal,” she wrote in a letter to board members this week.

But the mayor says the Department of Education conducted a review of 49 proposals to share public school space, and he will not be blocking the majority of the charter school proposals. He will, however, seek to start charging charter schools rent, and will block future proposals for those that plan to share space with public schools.

Update 6:20 p.m.: The Mayor's office sent us the following statement from de Blasio:

We are turning the page on the divisive policies of the past, even as we work with the difficult hand we’ve been dealt. As a public school parent, I am committed to a fundamentally different way of making decisions about co-locations, and that’s a commitment shared by the longtime teacher now leading our school system. We made clear from the outset we would carefully review all of the proposals rushed through in the waning days of the past administration. We set out consistent, objective criteria to protect school communities from unworkable outcomes. And today, 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. With these decisions, we are doing right by the most students and the most families. Moving forward we will have a new approach in place that truly engages parents and the communities to ensure their voices are heard.

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