Dromm to hold hearing on Moskowitz’s rally day

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Councilman Daniel Dromm announced Saturday that he will hold an oversight hearing to investigate whether Eva Moskowitz is illegally closing her schools on Tuesday so that students can participate in a pro-charter rally in Albany. 

Dromm, the chair of the Council's education committee, said he would also use the oversight hearing to investigate whether Moskowitz, the C.E.O. of Success Academies, was violating regulations by closing schools, and what he called her "extensive marketing campaigns."

"I am deeply concerned about the legality of a school leader closing schools for entirely political purposes," Dromm said in a statement, adding, "no educator should be allowed to use children as pawns for their political agenda."

A spokeswoman for Dromm told Capital the councilman is concerned that Moskowitz is violating regulations governing how many days of instruction a school must provide. New York State law requires schools be in session a minimum of 180 days. 

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Dromm is a former public school teacher who has been skeptical of charters during his time in the Council.

Moskowitz is closing all 22 of her schools on Tuesday so that the Success network's 6,700 students can participate in a pro-charter rally in Albany.

The city's charter contingent is pivoting its advocacy efforts to the Capitol after failing to gain traction with the de Blasio administration. About 90 other charters from New York City and upstate will participate in the rally, which is being held the same day as a long-planned rally in support of the mayor's pre-K plan.

Thirty independent charter schools have signed a letter saying that they will not participate in the rally, to avoid distracting attention from the pre-K rally. 

Moskowitz's Success network was the only charter network directly affected by a Department of Education announcement on Thursday that it would reverse three co-location plans involving Success Academies, including one currently operational school. 

At a meeting with parents after the D.O.E.'s announcement, Moskowitz told parents that rallying in Albany was all the more important after the co-location reversals.

She has also requested that Success parents take the day off work on Tuesday to rally with their children.

A spokeswoman for Success recently clarified that while children are not required to attend the rally, they will miss school if they don't participate in the trip to the Capitol.

Success is providing buses for all its students, and Moskowitz wrote in a letter to parents this week that instruction in math, civics and other subjects will take place during the three-hour drive back and forth from Albany.

"We will close our schools for one day to keep the mayor from closing them forever," Moskowitz wrote.

Dromm questioned that plan on Saturday.

"I do not believe the inside of the bus is an appropriate location to provide educational instruction," Dromm said in his statement.

Dromm added that Moskowitz has closed her schools before "for what seems to have been political purposes," shutting schools for an October march across the Brooklyn Bridge intended to show then-candidate Bill de Blasio the political might of the Success network.

"The mayor wants to close forever an extraordinary public school, a school where fifth graders outscored all others across the entire state of New York -- and the City Council is worried about one day?" Moskowitz told Capital in a statement, adding, "we will take the largest civic field trip in history and march for our right to a great, free public education."