Flatbush could soon be home to a new charter school.
A proposal is being passed around to open the Fahari Academy Charter School within the confines of Community District 17, which encompasses Flatbush, Rugby and Farragut.
Serving grades 5-12, the school would open in fall 2009 and promote “perseverance, respect, independence, discipline and excellence (PRIDE).”
Speaking at a forum about charter schools, Catina Venning, a lawyer and the lead founder of the Fahari Academy, said the school was designed by a group of community members. According to documents about the school, its founders have backgrounds in law, marketing, business, non-profit management and development, fundraising, and education.
Charter schools are similar to the small school format and receive state funding but are held to different accountability standards than the city Department of Education’s (DOE) public schools.
Here’s how it works – when the state grants approval for a charter school to open, the school agrees to meet specific student achievement standards. Five years down the road, if those standards are met, the charter is renewed and the school remains open. If not, the school is closed.
As a result of the differing procedures, charter schools have received mixed reviews from Brooklyn parents.
“I really think that charter schools are privatizing the public school system. It’s totally wrong,” said Emily Brown, whose son attends P.S. 15 in Red Hook, which will be the home of a new charter school this fall in spite of parents’ opposition.
Parents say the biggest problem with charter – and small – schools is that the DOE has the last say on their locations. So if a private space is not found, existing public schools are asked to relinquish some of their classrooms so the charter and small schools can operate there.
These arrangements have often been criticized by parents who say the additional students will create overcrowding.
In some cases, parents’ opposition has led the DOE to rethink plans to house charter and small schools in public school buildings – such was the case when the Khalil Gibran International Academy was initially slated to move into P.S. 282 in Park Slope.
But other times, the plans have moved forward – as is the case for P.S. 15.
“[DOE officials] are mandated to open charter schools,” said James Dandridge, president of School District 18’s Community Education Council (CEC), which advocates for schools in East Flatbush and Canarsie. “Whatever my thoughts are, it really doesn’t matter because the DOE is going to do whatever it wants to do.”