Parents sue to keep ‘Success’ charter out of Cobble Hill

The Brooklyn Paper
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A politically connected charter school broke state law by switching school districts to get space in wealthy Cobble Hill rather than less desirable neighborhoods, according to the angry parents behind a bombshell lawsuit.

Furious moms and dads from two public middle schools and high schools are demanding that former Manhattan Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz abandon her plans to open a new grade school in their building on Baltic and Court streets, claiming in the suit that her mini-education empire the Success Charter Network “unlawfully circumvented” state education rules to open in their community.

“They’re not playing by the rules,” said Coleen Mingo, whose son attends the School for International Studies, which shares space in the school building with the Brooklyn School for Global Studies. “They’ve left us no other choice but to sue.”

The State University of New York approved Moskowitz’s plan to “open, operate and maintain” a new charter school in Districts 13 or 14, which include Downtown, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Prospect Heights, and part of Park Slope — but not Cobble Hill, which is in District 15.

The city signed off on Moskowitz’s plan, but opponents say that approval is moot because the state never granted “Brooklyn Success Academy 3” permission to open in their neighborhood.

“It’s an injustice,” said Cobble Hill mom Jacqueline Johnson, who is one of more than two dozen charter school opponents filing the lawsuit. “This is an instance of stealing from the poor to give to the rich.

In order to switch school districts, Success Charter Network must submit a revised proposal that gives District 15 “45 days notice” and provides “an analysis of community support,” according to the lawsuit.

The legal action comes after dozens of furious parents and teachers stormed a Department of Education hearing to protest Moskowitz’s charter school in December, saying it would snatch facilities such as gym and cafeteria space from existing students and overcrowd the building.

A spokesman for the Department of Education, which is also named in the suit, declined to comment, citing a policy about pending litigation. But a representative from Success Charter Network defended the school, saying there’s plenty of support for it in Cobble Hill.There’s already a waiting list of families who want to attend the charter school, said Jenny Sedlis a director with Success Charter Network.

“It’s unfortunate that a few adults intent on protecting the status quo would sue to sacrifice the possibility of a brighter education and future for hundreds of children,” Sedlis said in a statement. “We will fight this lawsuit vigorously.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:30 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Judahspechal from BedStuy says:
"Status quo"my butt. Continue to ignor the will of the parents. Slap "charter" on it, talk about "waiting list" while like fascist you cut the will of the community out just for profit. "Success" isn't doing this out ofthe goodness of their hearts if you were you'd be in Brownsville.

Give me a freaking break. We'd rather take the $$ from public school & give is to Eva? Waste is waste whether it's in one hand (Eva) or in several hundred hands (teachers). Nowhere in this bit to reform education have I hear the proper emphasis placed in the hands of parents. We're it belongs.
Feb. 9, 2012, 9 am
Judahspechal from BedStuy says:
Nowhere in this bid to reform the education have I heard any emphasis placed or parents. And until this happens. Mark my words will soon be talking about corruption in the Charter system with the same venom many have for teachers.

Feb. 9, 2012, 9:04 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Thank you Judahspecial--I couldn't agree more.
Feb. 9, 2012, 9:22 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and parroted by Mayor Bloomberg spoke about "public education bureaucracy vs. 'our children'" and opening up public education coffers to private investors. But this is a false dichotomy--while accepting that indeed public education is problematic, but doing so within reason and sobriety and a careful examination of the parties and events involved [as Judahspecial here has done], then we can conclude that Cuomo and his lower level parrots have propped up a false dichotomy. The true dichotomy is "public education bureaucracy vs. private education complex", and again to emphasize Judahspecial's point, parents and their children are collateral damage.
Feb. 9, 2012, 9:24 am
District15parent from Carroll Gardens says:
When the SUNY Charter Institute met to vote on the proposal the board agreed to table the vote on Cobble Hill Success and send it back to the DOE for further consideration. The Board then met in "executive session" and came back claiming that according to their legal counsel they lacked the authority to table the vote. Clearly, the Charter Institute was troubled by this proposal and it caused the Chair, Pedro Noguera, to resign.

The parents whose children attend Global, International, and the Star Academy are trying to protect their programs and what little resources they have. The DOE has failed to adequately support these. At the DOE hearing in November, Marc Sternberg couldn't say enough good things about the improvements at Global and promised the new principal several times that the DOE would give all the support it needs. It is now on the closure list.

Watch out Marine Park. Eva might be coming to you with a an application approved for District 13 next.
Feb. 9, 2012, 9:48 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Please direct your attention to this passage in the above article:

“They’re not playing by the rules,” said Coleen Mingo, whose son attends the School for International Studies, which shares space in the school building with the Brooklyn School for Global Studies. “They’ve left us no other choice but to sue.”

Note my comments in an earlier article covering the Corporate Business Academy's proposed invasion of Williamsburg, "Fighting over ‘Success’ — opponents call planned W’burg charter ‘racist'" by Aaron Short:

"Leaders in the community are vocal about willingness to negotiate. They clearly do not want to undermine City Hall in their duty and process--they want to enhance investment. What recourse do they have then, if it is City Hall being intransigent? The Courts? Does the City really want to go there? Can its defense withstand admission of this when people say, hey, there are effective institutions and leadership right here in Williamsburg--how wise an investment, really, is to put so many taxpayer dollars against sound reason? All charter schools being equal, doesn't it make much more sense to fund local AND successful institutions? There's always so much talk about what's failing in Williamsburg and how it needs replacement--how exhausting. Let's magnify what we have."

There are many problems being faced by parents in Cobble Hill, but one problem that can be easily fixed but won't be, which will surely be noted by the courts, is the City's total and complete intransigence and unwillingness to negotiate. I can't even begin to think of a stronger argument against mayoral control of education.
Feb. 9, 2012, 9:56 am
Darren from Williamsburg, Brooklyn says:
The Cobble Hill and Williamsburg, Brooklyn Communities speak powerfully against Success Academy Charter School and the DOE:
Feb. 9, 2012, 9:57 am
Kate Yourke from Williamsburg says:
The Charter Institute started their presentation to the SUNY Trustees Education Committee with a confused discussion of the metrics they will be using to allow a "fast track" process of approval for charter schools. Even the (Interim) Executive Director couldn't explain the metrics, which inexplicably added to percentages over 100. They are outsourcing the development and analysis of this bulk approval process- a process that even the Executive Director can't explain to the people responsible for it- so why not supersize a flawed process? Their explanation for why the approval should go through was "we have no authority." They are so removed from the DOE process they didn't even know what the PEP stands for, when it was meeting, or who was in the lead in choosing the school location. Charter Schools have specific requirements for community outreach and support, and opposition- especially of the "impacted Community." Asked the question "how do you define Community?" Susan Miller Barker, Interim Executive Director, said for the purposes of these applications, Community is defined as New York City. (So what is Impacted Community??) As I now understand it, since the Mayor says these schools will benefit the City, they can be fast tracked on a fragmented process where no entity feels they have authority (and therefore accountability,) and the opposition from the truly Impacted Community is characterized as "from the Teachers Union," or "a few adults intent on protecting the status quo." The system has been rigged to allow these schools an unprecedented amount of power with a minimum of accountability. At some point the illegality will catch up to them, but how much damage will have been done?
Pedro Noguera was correct to resign, asking for greater leadership on this issue and saying Charter schools were never meant to be imposed on communities. And he might also have slipped out of a legal predicament when the authorization and approval process is examined and found to be illegitimate.
Feb. 9, 2012, 10:10 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:

Your second video exposes the ugliness behind an allegation made here by Corporate Business Academy apologist and defenders.

Commenter "laurie from hydell," supposedly having attended the public hearing on the Corporate Business Academy at JHS 50, made this observation:

"I attended the public hearing this past Tuesday night and was within two blocks of the school when i all i could hear was chanting! I and a friend attended this meeting in support of Success Academy. We had never been to anything like this before and both have two young daughters that currently attend school at a public school in Williamsburg. May i say we came with an open mind and were interested in hearing both sides. Sadly I was not able to hear anything because i had the pleasure of sitting next to a group of women who screamed in my ear the whole time. This was far from quiet or peaceful! Believe me there were more than just two people in support of Success Academy. At one point early on I happened to see a family of 5 with two young daughters wearing Success Academy uniforms. They left within a half hour because she commented on the group of women screaming behind them. I don't believe for one second that anyone speaking on behalf of Success Academy would not have been booed off. It was an experience I do not wish to endure again."

I draw attention to :44 in the video. The persons leaving publicly identified themselves on public comments threads [here] on Brooklyn Paper. I won't repeat their identity. However, other persons on the thread, who claimed to be "from Williamsburg" and implied race [we know this because they made reference to "lots of hate out there," meaning, specifically, the people of color in the community that comprised the vast majority of attendees]. Those commenters claimed that Success Academy supporters were peppered with hate and shouted at, harangued and harassed. The video suggests otherwise: they leave from the middle of the seats stage left. It takes them at least some footsteps to get out the door, and while they do so, the crowd is completely silent and respectful, merely observant.
Feb. 9, 2012, 10:18 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Commenter "laurie from hydell" made the comment on Jan. 20th, 11:39pm, for article, "Fighting over ‘Success’ — opponents call planned W’burg charter ‘racist'" [Jan. 18, 2012, by Aaron Short].
Feb. 9, 2012, 10:20 am
InTheSlope from Park Slope says:
@ Judahspechal from BedStuy:

100% agree.... the studies that are published show that 'Charter' schools rated ALL together perform no better that public schools..... most of the areas these 'Charter' schools weasel their way into an area that doesn't have a need for it...

'Charter' schools need new students; they want to duplicate the total outstanding debt that has doubled in the past five years - a sharp contrast to consumers reducing what's owed on home loans and credit cards.

The best part for them is the fact that they're rapidly increasing one type of loan that you can't discharge in bankruptcy, so now line up the primary & secondary kiddo's....
Feb. 9, 2012, 12:17 pm
parent from Cobble Hill says:
Does anyone know if SUNY allowed Eva Moskowitz to change the priority so that there is no longer a lottery preference given to English Language Learners or to kids from low-income families? She was granted the charter because she claimed the school lottery would give priority to those kids. I can't imagine a single good reason why she'd choose to change that priority, but if she did, did SUNY allow that?
Feb. 10, 2012, 11:49 am
Employee at Brooklyn School for Global Studies from Cobble Hill says:
I work inside the building here at School of Global Studies/International Studies. It is a FACT that Global Studies received an F on their year end report from the DOE. That was not an accident. Granted they have brought that grade up to a B, but according to an employee of the school, that is due to grade inflation.

I do not believe BSGS is doing it's students any kind of service by keeping them here. One need only walk around the halls of the school to see what kind of behaviour is acceptable here.
Feb. 10, 2012, 1:16 pm
Anon from Cobble Hill says:
Ms. O'Neill,

I’d like to see a copy of the lawsuit that was filed by the parents, but none of the local blogs have posted a copy, or a link to a copy of the lawsuit, or a copy of the Notice of Claim, which must precede a lawsuit. How about what claims are being raised, and a response from the DOE or someone about the merits? Otherwise, this reads like a press release without any real understanding of the merits other than an emotional response. The parent quote is that Moskowitz doesn’t play by the rules, but what are the rules? The lawsuit would state this. What about getting a copy of Moskowitz’s plan, which is presumably public information, or at least available by FOIL. The beauty of the Internet is that this stuff can be easily posted, but nobody is doing so and instead just passes along info that has relatively little worth to it. I can understand somewhat that local blogs don't have the time or money to get this info, but you're a newspaper backed by the NYPost. Don't you at least want this info to report a story and get to the facts?

Or am I just yelling "Get off my lawn" for no good reason?
Feb. 10, 2012, 3:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The claim that charter schools help communities are nothing more than a joke. First off, unless you have the money or know someone there, the only win is by winning the lottery where for the most part, your chances are pretty slim. Also, many of those who are enrolled probably don't even live where the school is located, so that debunks the claim that it helps the area. BTW, most charter school teachers only stay for the minium amount of time needed, and then leave especially with their big pay checks so that they would never have to teach again. Meanwhile, public school teachers are there almost for life, and that's mainly because they care about their jobs and like to teach to the children. On a side note, the charter schools only support Cuomo's evaluation plan, because they know that their teachers will never get touched by this, so that they can prepare for more locations in the future.
Feb. 10, 2012, 3:56 pm
Former Teacher - Public, Private, and Charter from Red Hook says:
To Judaspechal:

It is a common logical error to state that giving money to charter schools is taking it away from public education. Since the money goes towards the education of the public, and comes from tax dollars, it is public education. The only difference is that they are not governed by the same rules that apply to the majority of public schools (this can be both a positive and a negative).

There is nothing facist about it, and if we want to start fixing the problem that is poor parenting (which, let's face it, has become an epidemic), let's start by holding ourselves as individuals up to higher standards. Let's not throw disparaging remarks around that we do not understand. Let's not imply racism, when we all know that it would be harder for these schools to operate in (and keep highly qualified teachers in) areas that are as dangerous as Brownsville. Let's not tell our teachers that it is a waste to pay them the pittiful amounts that we do for doing such a difficult job.

Instead, why don't we aknowledge that we need to change our society and ourselves so that we expect better of our children than were expected of us. Let us aknowledge that, since so many things are wrong with our education system, we should suport those who are trying to change it, even if we are not willing to do the work it takes to change it ourselves!
Feb. 10, 2012, 6:03 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- "and then leave especially with their big pay checks so that they would never have to teach again."

HAHAHAHAHA! I'm laughing at you. You say dumb things. HAHAHAAHHA!
Feb. 10, 2012, 6:05 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, that is no laughing matter. That has actually been found to be true about charter school teachers. In the words of Al Gore, the founder of the nerdy left, "You have just committed the assualt on reason." If you have happen to have evidence proving otherwise, I would love to see it, otherwise I will consider you a shill for the charter schools.
Feb. 10, 2012, 6:29 pm
Teach from Brooklyn says:
So Tal since you know so much about teacher salary. How much does a charter teacher make?
Feb. 10, 2012, 10:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
What is real interesting is how much to Moskowitz pay you to say that, because I can pay you double to stab her right back.
Feb. 11, 2012, 4:10 pm
harriet from brooklyn says:
Bloomberg's PEP appointees fail their duty to the public- they are only doing their boss's bidding. The failure of the PEP to act on community input is a main reason for the rage against the current school system. I applaud the parents who use the only means left: Suing the City. Thank you for standing up for the students.
Feb. 11, 2012, 10:45 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Speaking of Bloomberg, I just heard that only 26% approve of his takover of city schools, which shows how he is the cause for them doing bad, not the UFT.
Feb. 12, 2012, 5:05 pm
bikram from cobble hill says:
That's what Jews do.
Feb. 22, 2012, 7:26 am
Concerned Parent from Crown Heights/Park Slope says:
I understand that teachers from neigboring schools are upset because of the Charter schools opening in these areas but le's look at this from anothr angle .... It's sid that you can get into a charter ... doesn't that give children from areas a chance to go to school there. Doesn't it help wth diversity? I was reading an article where a parent was talking about her child atending a public school in Cobble Hill and the upscale friends withmoney her child has and her concern about the charter School is that these upscale friends would leave and go to the charter school and her child would loose these upscale friends! Honestly if these are the type reasons parents are against the charter school education they should be ashamed of theselves and the examples thy are setting for their children, especially since they are trying to play the "RACE CARD"!

Let it be up to the individual... the parent to decide whether or not they want their chilren to attend the charter school or not. I clearly agree with the comment that a copy of the law suit needs to be posted here so hat unnecessary comments could be avoided.

I think the charter schools should be given a chance to prove that they can achieve what the public schools are failing to do. I know personally in the public school there a quite a few teachers are just there for the pay check and thy treat the children like they have no rights. It makes it bad for the ones that are honestly trying. Also some parents need to take responsibility for the behavior of their chilren. A lack of proper parenting has contributed to allot of the problems public schools face right now. there areallot o children that constanty bully other children and teachers and parents fail to correct the matter, like wse there are teachers that bull children in th public schools as well. So it sould be a combined effort with teachers and parent to get the children to where they should be.

If a charter school can aid in these aspects then by all means letthem prevail!
July 4, 2012, 7:46 pm

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