De Blasio meets with sympathetic charters

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Mayor Bill de Blasio met with a coalition of independent charter school leaders at City Hall on Monday and said he is open to expanding charter schools through co-locations, Capital has learned.

De Blasio, along with deputy mayor Richard Buery and senior Department of Education officials, met with representatives from eight charter schools and clarified  that there would be no ban on charter school co-locations with district schools, according to Richard Berlin, the chairman of DREAM Charter School, who attended the meeting. 

"There was clarity around the idea that co-locations could indeed be used to support charter growth," Berlin told Capital. 

Some charter operators feared De Blasio would ban co-locations, after he campaigned on the promise of implementing a "moratorium." But the mayor told the charter leaders today that he wants to revamp the co-location process to include more input from affected schools, and will not put an end to the space-sharing arrangement that charters have come to rely on.

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"The concept of charter growth was certainly not off the table," Berlin said. 

The mayor met with representatives from University Prep, Amber Charter School, Teaching Firms of America Professional Preparatory Charter School, Community Roots Charter, Children's Aid Charter, Broome Street Academy, and Renaissance Charter. 

Schools chancellor Carmen Fariña visited Broome Street Academy earlier on Monday morning, a spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed to Capital.

The meeting comes as de Blasio engages in a high profile fight with Success Academy C.E.O. Eva Moskowitz, who has put the administration on the defensive for its decision to reverse three Success co-locations.

The schools that met with de Blasio on Monday represent a subset of a steering committee of small charters sympathetic to the de Blasio administration, who have purposefully tried to distance themselves from Moskowitz.

Many of these independent charters signed a letter before last week's dueling rallies in Albany explaining that they would not march in support of charters to avoid distracting from the mayor's pre-K rally slated for the same time.

The meeting lasted about 90 minutes, Berlin said, and de Blasio was present for about 45 minutes.

The mayor also met with another group of independent charter leaders about two weeks ago, a City Hall source told Capital.

During Monday's meeting, de Blasio reaffirmed his interest in working with charters to create additional pre-K space.

"To the degree that there are legal changes necessary to allow charters to directly enroll pre-K, he would be willing to investigate that with his team," Berlin said. 

Berlin called the meeting "a clear statement that charters are not something separate."