Dispute With New York City Threatens Success Academy’s Pre-K
A critical deadline passed on Monday in a dispute between Success Academy charter schools and the de Blasio administration over the charter school network’s prekindergarten program, leaving its fate in doubt.
The disagreement arose last year after Success Academy refused to signNew York City’s contract for prekindergarten providers. As a result, the city has not paid Success for its prekindergarten program, which currently enrolls 72 children at three of the network’s schools.
In October, Success and a group of parents appealed to the New York State Education Department, accusing the city of violating state law by denying the network funds for its program. Last month, Success’s founder, Eva S. Moskowitz, wrote to the state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, saying that if the department did not make a decision “by February 15, 2016, we will have no choice but to cancel our pre-K classes for next year.”
On Monday, a spokesman for the Education Department said that it had not yet made a ruling.
“We’re moving as quickly as we can,” the spokesman, Dennis Tompkins, said. “It’s a complicated issue, and we want to get it right.”
A spokesman for Success Academy did not respond on Monday to an inquiry about whether the network would indeed cancel its prekindergarten program for next year.
The argument is another turn in a continuing battle between Ms. Moskowitz and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who served on the City Council together a decade ago. Mr. de Blasio is critical of charter schools, saying that they do not serve enough of the most difficult students and that they increase the burden on regular public schools. In his first year in office, he sought to block three Success Academy schools from getting space in public school buildings, only to reverse himself after Ms. Moskowitz’s supporters unleashed millions of dollars’ worth of television advertisements against him. Ms. Moskowitz repeatedly suggested that she might run against Mr. de Blasio when he sought re-election in 2017. In October she said that she had decided against it.
On the prekindergarten issue, Success argues that the city’s demand that it sign the contract violates state law, which it says gives a charter school’s authorizer, not the city, oversight of its prekindergarten programs. Success Academy’s schools are authorized by the State University of New York. The