De Blasio deals blow to Moskowitz schools

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The de Blasio administration has reversed three charter school co-locations that would have allowed Eva Moskowitz's Success Academies to expand, even as it implements the vast majority of co-locations approved by the Bloomberg administration last fall.

Of the 45 co-location proposals that the Department of Education decided on today, including 19 charter schools and 26 district schools, just nine were reversed. All three of the charter-related reversals involved Success Academies.

Six district school co-locations were also reversed. The 45 proposals affect about 4,500 children.

Thursday's long-awaited decisions represent a major change in how the D.O.E. will consider and implement the space-sharing arrangements that became a political lightning rod during the Bloomberg administration.

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“We are turning the page on the divisive policies of the past, even as we work with the difficult hand we’ve been dealt," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "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."

The city's charter school contingent also characterized Thursday's decisions as a sea change in the city's relationship with charters, calling the decisions "outrageous."

“Kicking one of the state’s top-performing schools out of its building and leaving three other schools without a building is nothing short of outrageous," said Nina Rees, C.E.O. of the National Alliance for Public Charter schools, referring to the one operational and two yet-to-be-opened Success schools whose co-locations were reversed by the decision.

The two schools yet to be opened were Success City Hall and Success Jamaica. The City Hall school would have co-located grades K-4 into an existing high school, Murry Bergtraum. Success Jamaica was slated to be co-located into August Martin High School. 

The third school, Success Harlem 4, has been open since 2008 and is housed in a building that has been described as crowded with two other schools. The co-location reversal affects about 200 students, a Success spokesman said.

Moskowitz is expected to hold a press conference about the reversals later this afternoon.

Six other district school co-locations were also reversed, five of which involved opening new schools and the last of which involved expanding a new career and technical education high school. 

Education activists and union leaders said they were pleased with the decisions.

“I’m glad the D.O.E. has taken an important first step in vetoing some particularly troublesome pending co-locations," said United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew in a statement.

“Thank you Mayor de Blasio for sticking to your word," said Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for the Alliance for Quality Education, in a statement. "This is good education policy and an uplifting start to bring fairness and equity to our schools." Ansari was a member of de Blasio's transition team and A.Q.E. frequently held protests about Bloomberg-era co-locations. 

As part of a major restructuring in how co-location proposals are reviewed, the D.O.E. also announced several new "values" that will guide decisions on co-locations.

Elementary schools will not be co-located onto high school campuses and space will not be reduced for the city's special education District 75 students. 

Additionally, co-location proposals involving small schools with less than 250 students and proposals involving major capital work will be particularly scrutinized.

“The previous administration handed over these proposals – and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines. While the circumstances for each proposal are unique, we identified clear criteria and we followed it," said schools chancellor Carmen Fariña in a statement. 

The D.O.E. will host meetings for the 35 school communities in which co-locations were approved, as many parents and community groups protested district school-specific co-locations. 

All the proposals decided on today will affect school utilization for the 2014-2015 academic year.