Success Academy Claims City Discriminates Against Harlem School

Patch reports that one of New York City’s largest charter schools is taking legal action against the city Department of Education for discriminating against one of its Harlem schools, Success Academy President Eva Moskowitz said at a press conference Monday morning.

The charter school network claims that the city backed out of a deal to increase space at its Success Academy Harlem West Middle School. The school is co-located with two public schools — Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing and Visual Arts and Frederick Douglass Academy II Secondary School — in a building on West 114th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

The city and Success Academy had a deal in place to increase the school’s space in the building, but in February the city DOE proposed a building utilization plan that would fail to give Success more space, Moskowitz said.

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“We have pursued every possible avenue to avoid litigation,” Moskowitz said Monday. “For months and months, we worked to get a resolution. We had an agreement and then the mayor reneged on his promise.”

Success Academy argues that it’s entitled to 11 more classrooms in the school building due to its high current and projected enrollment compared to the two public schools. In 2010, the city DOE passed a building utilization plan that allocated space among the three schools on the assumption that the public schools’ enrollment would increase. Instead, enrollment at Wadleigh Secondary School and Federick Doulgass Academy has decrease while enrollment at Success Harlem West is increasing.

At full enrollment, Success Harlem West would be forced to accommodate 14 more students in an average classroom than the public schools in the same building, the charter school claims.

In February, the city DOE submitted a building utilization plan that would cut three middle school grades from Wadleigh Secondary School for Performing and Visual Arts and move the Upper Manhattan Family Welcome Center into three of the school’s classrooms. Success Academy argues that those classrooms should instead go to Success Harlem West.

“All Harlem kids should be treated equally,” Harlem West Principal Khari Shabazz said. “The City is discriminating against our kids.”

The city Department of Education did not immediately respond to Patch’s request for comment.

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