De Blasio predicts victory in co-location suit

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Bill de Blasio. (AP PHOTO/SETH WENIG)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Sunday that he expects the city to prevail in a lawsuit filed by Public Advocate Letitia James, which would block charter school co-locations that were recently approved by his administration.

"We feel very good about the decision we made and the criteria we used, and if the public advocate wants to file a lawsuit that's her right, but we think our decision will stand in court," de Blasio told reporters, after promoting his universal pre-kindergarten plan at Heavenly Visions Church in the Bronx.

He said he has not seen the lawsuit filed by James, his successor as public advocate, who announced on Saturday night that she would proceed with the suit, after hosting a town-hall style forum to address the issue.

De Blasio recently approved 36 of 45 co-locations that were part of a flurry of co-location approvals at the end of the Bloomberg administration.

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He allowed 14 of 17 charter school plans to move forward, with all three of the denials affecting Success Academy, which is run by the outspoken charter advocate Eva Moskowitz.

Moskowitz was recently joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo at a rally for charter schools in Albany, on the same day de Blasio visited the capital to push for a tax to fund universal pre-kindergarten programs.

De Blasio has been criticized by both sides of the charter-school debate: Cuomo and Moskowitz rallied before a crowd of several thousand, who criticized his decision to block the Success co-locations.

But some of de Blasio's allies on the left, including James and some members of the City Council, are upset over his decision to allow most of the charter school co-locations to move forward.

James wants to delay the charter school lottery this year or postpone enrollment at charters located in public schools.

During his church appearance, the mayor continued his push to get approval from Albany for an income-tax increase on city residents who earn $500,000 or more to fund his pre-K and after-school expansion.

Cuomo has balked at the request and instead promised to fund it with existing state revenues.

De Blasio said he is confident he will move Albany.

"When public opinion moves forcefully leaders catch up and I think what's happening here is there's a growing consensus about the power of pre-K and the power of after school to be transcendent in children's lives," he told reporters. "It gives me a lot of hope about the outcome."