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Battle Over NYC Public School Resources Given To Charter Schools Pits Parent Against Parent

Teachers Union, Public Supporters Say Current Situation Feels Like 'A Takeover'
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Charter schools

Charter and public school advocates went head to head on June 21, 2011 over public school resources. (Photo: CBS 2)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An all out war over the future of charter schools in New York City is now being fought in state supreme court.

PTA president Sonya Hampton said on Tuesday that it has not been a happy marriage since the Harlem Success Academy charter school moved into part of the building with her P.S. 149 in Harlem.

“Since the charter schools came into our building, we constantly lose the space,” Hampton told CBS 2’s John Metaxas. “The way they came in it was like a takeover.”

That tension — echoed in other locations where the two kinds of schools cohabitate — now pits parent against parent. And a surprising coalition of the teacher’s union joined by the NAACP is suing to stop what they see as the city’s unfair direction of public school resources to charter schools.

But charter school supporters fear their movement might derail.

“It’s very likely we may not be able to open our school. That’s the plain truth of it,” said Professional Prep founder Rafiq Kalam Id-Din.

“The parents that already have a school set up for their child would eventually have to scramble to find another location to put their child in,” parent Genevieve Foster said.

Charter school advocates showed up for a rally outside Manhattan Supreme Courthouse on Tuesday with a special plea to the civil rights organization.

“Instead of fighting for the civil rights of all of us, they are trampling the civil rights of my little girl,” charter school parent Kathleen Kernizan said.

Hampton said she fears the charter school could end up taking away the art room in her public school, where works were created. Other officials said the problems run even deeper.

“They get more money, the charters. They get more space. They don’t take the same kids. They push out special needs kids,”said Noah Gotbaum of Community Education Council District 3.

Id-Din is afraid the lawsuit could leave dozens of families scrambling for a school come September.

There were dueling news conferences in Manhattan on Tuesday. As soon as one ended, the teachers union and public school parents took the stage before heading into court to hash it out in front of a judge.

Their fight is over resources, fairness and the future of their children.

The matter is now in the hands of the judge. He has not indicated how much time he’ll need before issuing a decision on whether he’ll allow the charter schools to open or accept new students.

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