Success Academy charter school officials are blaming the city’s Department of Education for not allowing the program to use public school buildings for their first day of school on August 4th, despite the Success Academy schedule ignoring Governor Andrew Cuomo’s own timeline to issue approvals for individual district and charter school reopening plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an announcement Tuesday, Success Academy officials said their schools would begin their academic year remotely on August 4th for high school seniors, followed by August 24th for the rest of their 20,000 students.

“SA had planned to open school on campus, in a hybrid model, but last week, City Hall and the Department of Education informed the network that it could not have building access until mid-September at the earliest,” according to a press release from Ann Powell, the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for Success Academy. “SA announced in late Spring that it would re-open on time with a hybrid model that included some time on campus for all students, pending government approval, favorable public health metrics, and being able to access buildings.”

The release quoted the school’s founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz saying “We are disappointed. We miss the kids so much, and we know parents need some relief to be able to work.”

“But our students simply cannot pay the price of delay. There are already gross educational inequities. We were founded to counter them and so we will launch remotely,” Moskowitz said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has to approve the reopening plans for all schools in the state, including charters -- he has stated his timeline to issue approval will be between August 1st to 7th. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a blended learning model with part in-person instruction for the public school system.

The city’s Department of Education said if Cuomo approves New York City’s school reopening plan, all buildings will open at the same time including “equitable space sharing arrangements” for charters and co-located schools operating in public school buildings.

“The health and safety of all New York City students, teachers and staff is the priority when it comes to reopening. To ensure the safety of all New Yorkers, we’re planning to open all buildings at the same time in September, with equitable space sharing arrangements among co-located schools, including charters,” said spokesperson Danielle Filson in a statement.

New York City schools have not announced an official first day of school but Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to have some students back in school by September 10th. Success Academy will also move to a partial in-person, partial remote learning plan “after access is granted,” according to Powell.

Success Academy has opened its academic year before public schools for years now, Powell added.

“Our classroom allocation is set and known, and for 14 years now we have opened schools 1-2 weeks before the DOE in DOE buildings without an issue. This is not about 'equitable' space sharing arrangements. The DOE has changed its policy, and gave SA little notice,” she said.

About half of the city’s 260 charter schools are co-located in DOE space, including 45 Success Academy schools. The New York Post reported that Success Academy’s Hudson Yards location, which is in its own space, would also delay opening “for the sake of uniformity.”

When asked what SA’s working families will do for childcare while remote learning was in place, Powell said “I don't have details on the city's childcare plans.”