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Charter School Parents Sue NYC to Keep Harlem Space

New York City was sued by charter school parents to force Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration to let their children’s academy share space in a local public school, heightening tensions over the educational alternative.

Parents of at least 19 students attending Harlem Central, a charter school operated by Success Academy NYC, asked a federal judge in New York yesterday to grant an order blocking the city from terminating a space-sharing agreement.

The Department of Education on Feb. 27 sent an e-mail announcing it had unilaterally decided to revoke Harlem Central’s location, “leaving the school and its students without a school building,” according to the parents.

The parents contend that instead of following the law, the city undertook a “closed door review of co-locations” that unfairly targeted Success Academy, which is operated by its founder, Eva Moskowitz. In the suit, the parents allege that de Blasio has labeled Moskowitz as having “destructive impact” upon public eduction.

De Blasio has said charter schools, which are publicly funded and privately operated, had been singled out for preferential treatment by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, even though they serve only 5 percent of the city’s students. The former mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

‘Arbitrary Targeting’

“The revocation of these Success Academy schools (one of which is among the best public middle schools in the city) was driven by the continued arbitrary targeting of Success Academy schools and their founder,” the parents claimed in the suit.

Success Academy operates 18 Charter Schools in New York City, including five in Harlem, three in the Bronx, seven in Brooklyn and three in Manhattan. The Harlem location is attended by 194 students, according to the suit.

“The administration is already taking steps to resolve concerns we have received by some parents,” Devon Puglia, a Department of Education spokesman, said in a statement. “In our decisions, we set consistent, objective, commonsense standards - - most importantly protecting students with disabilities. We remain deeply committed to the rights of all students, and ensuring every child has access to a great education.”

Phil Walzak, spokesman for the mayor, said in an e-mail the administration is committed to ensuring “every child has access to a great education, and the rights of all students.”

The case is Placencia v. Board of Education of the City School District of the City of New York, 14-cv-1830, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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