Monday, July 25, 2011

New York City Parents File Lawsuit Against Separate and Unequal Charter Co-locations and Illegal Free Rent and Services to Charter Schools

We are constantly surrounded by well funded media blitzes hiding behind free market rhetoric, that in actuality are extensions of large cash rich corporations looking for their next hand out.

One prime example was the attempt to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a big box department mall with BIG FAT GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES. They quoted job growth numbers that have no basis in the real world when considering the devastation the mall would have imposed on community businesses that are not subsidized by the government. Landowners, merchants and store employees who have been around for both good and bad times.

The following press release circulating is about a law suit filed by various educational organizations alleging possible fraud related to NYC Charter Schools. Can someone please explain the logic why a charter school, run by a private company, should pay $1 to rent valuable space? Is there something I am missing?

The true followers of free market principles that made this nation great can be found along the Fordham Road and Jerome Ave business districts that intersect at the Kingsbridge Armory. If we want a true free market educational system that is equitable, we should allow each parent a stipend to be allocated as they see fit to any accredited educational system that he, she or they choose weather it be public, charter, private or any hybrid society can think of. Put funding in the hands of the people, not government bureaucrats or private for profit corporations.

Please do review the allegations and issues discussed in the following law suit being filed against the NYC DOE. If it were not our tax dollars used for some private corporations gain it might be funny; but obviously it’s not.


New York City Parents File Lawsuit Against Separate and Unequal Charter Co-locations and Illegal Free Rent and Services to Charter Schools

July 25, 2011
Mona Davids, NYC Parents Union, (917) 340-8987
Leonie Haimson, Class Size Matters (917) 435-9329
Arthur Z. Schwartz, Esq., Advocates for Justice, (917) 923-8136

New York City Parents File Lawsuit Against Separate and Unequal Charter Co-locations and Illegal Free Rent and Services to Charter Schools

The New York City Parents Union, Class Size Matters and public school parents today filed a lawsuit charging the New York City Department of Education with creating a "separate and unequal" education system through the co-locations of charter schools in public school buildings.

In New York City, charter schools are private non-profit education corporations which have contracts called "charters" with an authorizer such as the New York State Education Department or State University of New York to provide educational services. Charter schools are publicly funded but, to date, have usually been managed either by a for-profit corporation or by a non-profit corporation who has hired a for-profit corporation to assist with management. In these cases, a private entity is deriving a profit -- a profit that is not necessarily benefiting our children. The NYC Department of Education provides space and services to charter schools for $1 per year that according to state law should be charged “at cost”. Next year the amount of space and services provided by the city to co-located charters will be nearly $100 million per year. These are funds desperately needed by our public schools at a time of scarce resources and sharp budget cuts.

Arthur Z. Schwartz of Advocates for Justice, lead attorney in this litigation says: "For several years now the NYC Department of Education has done all that it can to promote charter schools, acting not only to bring them into existence, but providing them with resources far in excess of what children in non-charter schools receive. The most odious circumstances arise where schools are co-located. Today we are filing and serving a lawsuit which addresses the unlawful nature of the DOE's program. We are going far beyond a procedural challenge, alleging far more than that the DOE didn't follow the steps in the statutory process correctly. Today we raise three substantive challenges.

First, we are challenging to provision of free space and services to charter schools. There is no question that this action violates state law, providing an unlawful subsidy to co-located charter schools. It is a policy which allows them to spend their money on staff, supplies and equipment rather than rent and creates gross inequities between the charter schools and their building-mates, and between charter schools in their own facilities and co-located schools. We are also challenging the DOE on the impact of co-location on the education of the public school students in the building asserting that the co-locations will increase class size and undermine children's constitutional right to a sound and adequate education. Finally, we are challenging the co-location process, which is supposed to be a "meaningful public process" as being nothing of the sort: dominated by boilerplate documents, difficult for parents to understand, not properly translated, and issued beyond statutorily mandated deadlines. Parents’ views are solicited but ignored, and in the impact statements, inadequate attention is paid to children with disabilities and English language learners.

This is not an attack on charter schools. Our plaintiffs include charter school parents. It is an effort to force the NYC Department of Education to pay attention to the impact of its actions on public school students, and provide them with the education they have a right to."

Muba Yarofulani, Vice-President of New York City Parents Union and a parent plaintiff in the lawsuit, says: "Our public school children continue to be served in an educational system where quality and equal opportunity are not the norm. We will continue to fight to the end for equal access to a quality education for our public schoolchildren."

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters, a citywide parent advocacy group which is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, says: "The New York charter school law clearly states that if a district chooses to provide space and services to charter schools, it must do so at cost; and yet the NYC Department of Education provides this to charters for $1 per year. Using figures from the Independent Budget Office, we estimate that the space and services DOE will provide to charters next year are worth nearly $96 million. These are funds that our public schools desperately need and could be used to prevent devastating budget cuts, the loss of teachers and sharply increased class sizes next year. As it is, each student in a co-located charter receives nearly $1000 more in public funding on average compared to a district public school student, a situation that is highly inequitable and needs to stop."

She adds: "We also believe that the co-location policy pursued by DOE and imposed on our public schools is deeply wrongheaded; as educrats use every available inch of space to jam a new school into a building; without any regard to how this will increase class size or prevent schools from being able to reduce class size in the future, which the state’s highest court said is necessary for NYC public schoolchildren to receive their constitutional right to an adequate education. And yet these damaging effects are nowhere reflected in the DOE’s Educational Impact Statements – a critical and potentially illegal flaw."

Faye Hodge, a parent plaintiff of a child who attends a charter school in private space says: "It is not fair that charter schools located in private space receive nearly $1,000 less than co-located charter schools. My charter school does not have enough books, does not provide academic intervention services, and cannot renovate our cafeteria or gym because we have to pay for rent, utilities, insurance, food service and cleaning services, while co-located charters are illegally subsidized by the New York City Department of Education. That is not fair. "

Mona Davids, the President of the New York City Parents Union, the President of the NY Charter Parents Association and a charter parent says, “We believe all children must have equal access to a quality public education. We respect the choice a few families made in removing their children from the public education system and enrolling them in publicly funded, but privately managed charter schools. However, public education is a cornerstone of our democracy and will always serve all children including children with disabilities, English Language Learners, homeless children, low performing students, and new immigrants. We must ensure all these children receive a quality public education and their rights are not violated by a separate and unequal system created by the New York City Department of Education.”


Anonymous said...

"principles" not "principals"

george1la said...

In general charter schools are a scam on the public. Public education demands accountability for administrators, teachers and staff. There is only so much money. First of all charter schools cherrypick and do not have to follow many state laws. You must have a correction factor to actually compare them. Charter schools have had since 1994 to show what they can do and according to the latest nationwide studies they generally perform worse than traditional public schools. With the correction factor they are much worse. When a district creates a charter school they are saying "WE ARE A BUNCH OF LOSERS AND CANNOT FIX OUR SYSTEM SO WE WILL GIVE IT AWAY." This is the truth. They are all about money and controlling minds. Why else would hedge funds want in? Why is it that education is the only thing the dems and reps agree on. Privatization and corporatization of education is their goal. When there is big money there is no party. Split it up and shut up is the deal of the day. Take them on New York. We are in Los Angeles.

By the way Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, spent 20 minutes with students, parents, teachers and the community and said "I'm leaving." I yelled out "He does not care about students, parents or teachers, he is going to get money." Duncan tried to trick the person who got the meeting opened up and with my friends. We got over 200 people there from as far away as 150 miles away. He has shown himself to be a fraud as he stated earlier in the day at the LAUSD Board of Education that he wanted to talk with students, parents and teachers. At the press conference he was noticed that over 100 people were waiting to speak with them. Think about it. He could have acted like he cared. Spent two hours to fool us and left and laughed at us and we would not know. Think about what this means about his priorities.