Moskowitz keeps pushing
Eva Moskowitz is upset that the mayor of New York City isn't taking her phone calls.
Moskowitz, C.E.O. of the Success Academy charter network, has garnered national publicity, and the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, as she protested Bill de Blasio's decision last month to reverse three co-locations of her charter schools that were approved by the previous administration.
She's still waiting to hear about the city's plans for the 194 Success Academy students who were planning to attend a new middle school located at P.S. 149 at 118th Street and Lenox Avenue, and who she says don't have anywhere to go now.
"I have reached out to the mayor repeatedly," Moskowitz said during a press conference announcing three legal complaints concerning the co-location reversals. "I look forward to sitting down with him anytime, any place. Dialogue is always constructive."
De Blasio and his schools chancellor Carmen Farina, seemingly taken aback by the response to the co-location decisions, have both said since then that they intend to help find alternative locations for the Success students.
Moskowitz said today that she was "encouraged" by the pledge, but insisted that the Department of Education deliver "a concrete plan" and that the 194 students be moved together instead of dispersed into available spots in schools throughout Harlem or the city.
"Children are not some widgets that can somehow be distributed, it's not about random seats," Moskowitz said.
Fariña, who initially suggested that the other Success schools around the city could absorb the students, told reporters Sunday to "stay tuned" for additional information.
De Blasio's press office and D.O.E. officials did not return requests for comment on Monday.
Kerri Lyon, a spokeswoman for Moskowitz, said there was no room for the students in Success' three other middle schools in Harlem because class sizes are already at capacity and each school would have to to create an additional two or three classrooms each to accommodate the children.
Parents at students accepted to go the Success school also plan to file a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the D.O.E. later this week, charging children have a constitutional right to a sound education and are entitled to due process before their rights are revoked, according to the network's chief legal officer Emily Kim. Kim also announced Monday that attorneys from prestigious law firms Paul Weiss and Arnold Porter will handle the three complaints on a pro bono basis.
Success' legal team is arguing that the decision to reverse the three co-locations was done without due process from the D.O.E., which would have included a new educational impact statement and a vote via the Panel for Educational Policy.
Moskowitz rejected a claim by the administration, and echoed by organized supporters of the co-location reversal and the principal of the existing school, that the reversed co-location would negatively affect special education children in the public school that's already there.
"We are very, very committed to special ed, we are committed to P.S. 811," she said, referring to the District 75 program within P.S. 149.
An educational impact statement (E.I.S.) prepared by the D.O.E. under Bloomberg found that the Success co-location into P.S. 149 would in fact put the school at 116 to 132 percent capacity in the 2018-2019 school year, and would have reduced future enrollment at P.S. 811, the special education school.
"We would be doing physical and occupational therapy in the halls," P.S. 811's principal, Barry Daub, told the Daily News last week.
But the Bloomberg administration E.I.S. ultimately recommended that the co-location be approved since it was "not expected to impact" admissions or instruction for students already at P.S. 149.
"There is not a single student who would be displaced by this action," Moskowitz said, referring to the co-location's immediate, not future, impact. "The mayor should not be pitting student against student. We know that building very, very well. There is space in that building."