Democrats criticize de Blasio for approving co-locations

David Greenfield. (William Alatriste/NYC Council)
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Three City Council members from Brooklyn took the rare step of criticizing the mayor on Thursday, after Bill de Blasio announced he will allow 36 public and charter schools to move into existing schools.

The mayor reversed nine co-locations, which had previously been approved by the Bloomberg administration, but allowed the bulk of the space-sharing arrangements to go forward.

"If the overreaching consideration is what's in the best interest of the students, then we should deny these charters entry into District 21," Councilman Vincent Gentile, an early de Blasio supporter, wrote in a press release.

The Council has been reluctant to question de Blasio's policy choices thus far, but Gentile said he was "very disappointed" with the administration's decision to move Coney Island Prep into I.S. 281, claiming it "does not square with the facts as we presented."

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He said the intermediate school is "already busting at the seams."

Councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger piled on in the joint press release.

Greenfield, who helped elect de Blasio's preferred speaker candidate, Melissa Mark-Viverito, said a co-location in his district "will come at the expense of the school's dedicated staff and hard-working students."

He criticized the approval of a charter into I.S. 96, while laying blame on the city's former schools chancellor.

"It's no secret that the only reason this charter school was approved was because of political reasons by Chancellor Dennis Walcott to satisfy a powerful charter school operator," Greenfield said, referring to Eva Moskowitz, who operates the charter school network in the city.

He promised "to fight this decision tooth and nail."

Treyger, a new councilman, said the choice to approve two co-locations "defies logic."

Meanwhile Mark-Viverito, one of de Blasio's closest political allies, disagreed with his choice.

"I am concerned about the fact that the vast majority of co-locations approved by the previous administraiton will be moving ahead as proposed, but remain confident that we can work with the de Blasio administration to reach the right balance," she said in an email to reporters.