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September 7, 2012

City breathes new life into a charter school it once tried to close

by Geoff Decker, at 10:10 am


City lawyers are in negotiations to extend the life of a charter school that the education department tried last year to close, according to a lawyer representing the school’s parents.

Details aren’t final, but the terms are likely to include an agreement to grant the school, Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School, an extension beyond this school year, according to the lawyer, Arthur Schwartz. The city and school are still negotiating how the school would be evaluated in subsequent renewal decisions moving forward, he said.

Schwartz filed a second lawsuit on behalf of PPA’s parents in May, arguing that the city’s handling of the closure procedure violated their due process rights. A judge hasn’t yet ruled on that issue, but a restraining order meant the city had to abandon its closure plans for this year.

“We won, basically,” Schwartz said this week. “We won’t have a decision on what the law is, but who cares?”

A spokeswoman for the city confirmed that the two sides “are discussing a possible resolution” but declined to provide more details.

UPDATE: City law department officials said the court order does not necessarily mean the school is off the hook for the year. If the court were to rule in the department’s favor later, the department could take action to close the school mid-year.

An extension would be a significant about-face for the city. Citing insufficient test score gains, it announced in January that it would close Peninsula Prep when its charter expired in June. But the school’s board of trustees fought back in court as well, winning the restraining order, which allowed the school to admit and enroll new students until the judge made her decision. (more…)



May 24, 2012

Peninsula Prep Academy to stay open at least into the summer

by Geoff Decker, at 7:33 pm


A charter school that the city is trying to close will likely stay open well beyond the end of the school year while a judge reviews the case.

The city announced in January that it would not renew the Peninsula Preparatory Academy’s charter when it expires on June 30. But just as has happened at Williamsburg Charter High School, another charter school facing closure, parents and the school board at PPA have fought back in court. In March, PPA won a temporary restraining order, allowing the school to hold its lottery for next year and begin enrolling students. Principal Ericka Wala said today the school received 125 applications for 50 kindergarten seats and has already filled those seats.

On Thursday, Judge Diccia Pineda-Kirwan of the Queens County Supreme Court extended the restraining order indefinitely while she reviews the case. An additional motion was filed by parents who charge that their due process rights were violated by the Department of Education’s handling of the closure procedure. Advocates for Justice, the nonprofit law firm that is usually opposes charter schools in litigation, filed the motion on behalf of 98 families from the school.  (more…)

February 8, 2012


For second year in a row, a new Moskowitz school is being sued

by Geoff Decker, at 6:40 pm



Sabrina Tan, a lawyer for Advocates for Justice, describes the firm’s suit over a new charter school.

Backed by a law firm that has battled the Department of Education in court repeatedly over the past year, a group of Cobble Hill parents announced today that they are suing to stop Eva Moskowitz’s Brooklyn Success Academy 3 from moving into their neighborhood.

Fifteen public school parents signed onto the suit, which Advocates for Justice said it would be filing today.

The suit claims the city and Moskowitz circumvented state education laws when they abruptly changed plans for the school late last year. BSA 3 was originally approved for either District 13 or District 14, but the city revised its proposal in late October and announced the school would instead share a building with two high schools and a special needs elementary school in District 15.

Opposition to the plan quickly mounted and reached a climax when protesters clashed with Moskowitz at a meeting she hosted for prospective parents in November. The city’s Panel for Educational Policy approved the co-location plan two weeks later.

It’s the second time in as many years that a Success school has been the subject of a lawsuit from the surrounding community. Last April, parents on the Upper West Side filed suit against the city’s plan to site a Success school on the Brandeis campus, charging that the network was not serving the needy student population that was written into its charter. The suit was dismissed just weeks before the school was slated to open. (more…)

June 13, 2011

Parent group says it will file separate suit challenging closures

by Geoff Decker, at 7:52 pm


More litigation could be targeted at Tweed’s plans to close struggling schools, even as one lawsuit seems to be headed toward an amicable settlement.

The New York City Parents Union announced this afternoon that it plans to file a separate lawsuit against the Department of Education, charging that its policy of closing low-performing schools and co-locating charter schools in district space was illegal. The lawsuit, according to the announcement, would effectively stop all school closure and co-locations from moving forward.

“We, the public school parents, challenge the cynical chicanery of Chancellor Walcott and the DOE. We reject the privatization agenda supported by Mayor Bloomberg and his appointees. Our children deserve the best education and a supportive administration, and we will fight for all children to receive equal access to a quality education,” the statement said.

The lawsuit would also seek to reverse charter school co-locations because they aren’t charged market rent for space in district school buildings. (more…)

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