Published: March 18, 2014
Publication: NY Post
By Carl Campanile
A day after getting slapped with a federal lawsuit from charter school parents for canceling classroom space for their kids, Mayor Bill de Blasio got hit from the other side — public school parents claiming he did too much for charters.
More than 50 parents and education activists back a lawsuit filed by Public Advocate Letitia James and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to overturn all charter school “co-locations” in city-owned buildings approved by de Blasio last month.
In an “open letter,” the parents said they were hopeful de Blasio would reverse most of the 45 co-locations rammed through by the Bloomberg administration last year.
The mayor approved 36 of the 45 space-sharing arrangements, including 14 of 17 charter schools. The only three charters yanked are run by the Success Academy network operated by City Hall nemesis Eva Moskowitz.
In the letter, the parents said they were disappointed with de Blasio, who “chose to go ahead with most of these proposals, many of which will have devastating effects on existing schools. We oppose 35 of these proposals, 16 of which will push the building at or above 100% utilization.”
New court papers filed by the plaintiffs in the state Appellate Division also seek to force the city to charge rent to all charter schools currently given free space in city public school buildings.
Charter schools are considered alternative public schools. They are independently managed and receive government operating aid per student. But they do not receive state building aid to cover rent or build their own facilities.
An Independent Budget Office study suggested that charter schools actually get more overall aid than regular public schools when factoring in the free rent or subsidy they receive from the city. Charter advocates have disputed the findings.
“The subsidy we complain about lies at the heart of inequities in various school buildings that fuel the opposition to co-location. These inequities, and the rent subsidy which the 2011 IBO report revealed, was never the intention of the Legislature,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Arthur Schwartz.
The de Blasio administration has defended its decisions on co-locations as equitable and fair to all students.