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Parents fight to keep charter out of Flatbush school with lawsuit

Published: September 8, 2011

Publication: New York Daily News

By Mark Morales


Parents at Flatbush Middle School are suing to keep a charter school out of their crowded building.

Angry parents at a Flatbush middle school are hoping a lawsuit against the city will stop a charter school from squeezing into the school’s building for good.

The Explore Charter school has been holding classes in the building on Parkside Ave. – home to Parkside Preparatory Academy – since late August.

A lawsuit filed by parents against the city’s Department of Education is an attempt to undo the co-location arrangement approved by the city in May.

“It’s an egregious example of how the DOE is pushing its policy favoring charter schools to the detriment of poor and working-class students in the public school system,” said Arthur Schwartz, a lawyer for Advocates for Justice.

The suit, one of two co-location suits set to go before a judge next week, charges the city never published key documents in languages other than English and doesn’t specify how the co-location will affect special education programs at Parkside Preparatory Academy.

The charter school joined Parkside Preparatory Academy and a school for special needs students in the building.

“They say this will have no impact on special education programs but that’s impossible,” said Schwartz. “They’re supposed to explain how they are going to accommodate them and they don’t do that.”

Education Department officials declined to comment on the suit.

Parents of current and former students at Parkside Preparatory Academy said they were afraid the lack of space would hold back their children’s development.

“I’m concerned for his physical and mental well-being,” said Michelle Morgan, whose son is entering the seventh grade. “There’s going to be more kids in that space and it’s going to be too crowded. I’m worried it will affect his performance but I’m hoping that it doesn’t.”

Serana James, 34, said she was glad her son David graduated just before the charter school came in.

“I’m just sorry for the other students that have to deal with it. It’s going to be too crowded,” she said.

Officials for Explore Charter School did not return a call seeking comment.

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