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De Blasio sued by own allies to overturn charter school openings

Published: March 26, 2014

Publication: NY Post

By Carl Campanile

Top allies sued Mayor de Blasio Wednesday to overturn his decision to open 14 charter schools in city-owned buildings this fall.

The chief plaintiffs include Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and eight other city council members, The Post has learned.

About 70 parents and advocacy groups — including NYC Parents Union and Class Size Matters — also joined the suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court to halt the 36 school co-locations, including 14 of 17 charter applications.

The council members on the suit include five from de Blasio’s home borough of Brooklyn: Jumaane Williams, Mark Treyger, Vincent Gentile William Colton and Alain Maisel; Margaret Chin of Manhattan and Daneek Miller and Ruben Wills from Queens.

“A newly appointed Board of Education has chosen, with the blessing of the city’s new mayor, to saddle nearly 40 schools with the co-location of new schools into already overcrowded school buildings,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Arthur Schwartz.

The co-locations “perpetuate an immeasurable and irreparable injury upon the affected schools, students, educators and communities,” he said.

Schwartz said the plaintiffs agreed to hold back the suit until the de Blasio administration ruled on the co-locations approved by the Bloomberg administration. They complained de Blasio went too far by approving most of the co-locations.

But De Blasio is getting flak from both sides in the war over charters.

During the mayoral campaign last year, he complained that his predecessor rammed through the co-locations and promised to review every one of those decisions.

After setting up its own criteria, the de Blasio administration — guided by Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina —approved 36 of the co-locations and rejected nine.

And they gave the green light to open 14 charter schools and rejected three — all Success Academy charter schools run by nemesis Eva Moskowitz.

De Blasio was immediately challenged by the well-financed and organized charter school movement — and even Gov. Cuomo. Not only did Hizzoner block three of Moskowitz’s charters, but he also plans to eliminate a $210 million charter school construction fund and promised to charge rent to the well endowed charters.

Moskowitz and Success Academy parents filed their own federal civil rights suit and legal complaint with the state Education Department over City Hall’s rejection of three charter applications; five others were approved.

But in the court papers, Schwartz said thousands of students in dozens of regular public schools on the receiving end of the co-locations are the most negatively impacted — and largely forgotten in the charter war furor.

“These plaintiffs lack the multi-million dollar publicity machine being let loose in NYC by the city’s largest charter school chain,” he said, referring to Moskowitz’ Success Academy.

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