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Harlem Public School Parents Rally In Support Of Mayor’s Stance On Charters

Charter School (credit: CBS 2)

Charter School (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A group of public school parents, teachers and others rallied on the steps of City Hall in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to block co-location of some charter schools.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, teachers at P.S. 149 in Harlem, where Success Academy already runs an elementary school, said they’re being squeezed out.

“I’m an art teacher without a classroom,” a teacher told Diamond. “I take the classroom with me from class to class because they took space from us.”

City Councilman Danny Dromm, D-Queens, declared that 42 council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, have signed a letter to Albany demanding an additional $1.9 billion in funding for New York City’s public schools.

“We are living in an unjust state with an unjust governor,” Natasha Capers, a public school mother, told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.

De Blasio has said charters should pay rent to use public school space. Opponents said charters are public schools and are therefore entitled to public school space.

But de Blasio supporters said he has taken a positive stance on the matter.

“He was the first public official to realize that Tweed and DOE made a mistake,” said Sonya Hampton, president of P.S. 149’s Parent Teacher Association.

Parents applauded the mayor’s decision not to co-locate Success Academy’s Harlem middle school in the building.

Public education advocate Noah Gotbaum said that while special-needs students in P.S. 149 are squeezed, Harlem Success students enjoy a room designated for block play and karate.

“Children who have been in this building for seven years, this is their home,” he said.

Eva Moskowitz, the founder of Success Academy, isn’t giving up the fight to expand inside the school, saying her middle school students have nowhere else to go.

On Monday, a number of lawsuits were filed against the mayor’s decision to deny charters space previously promised to them in public school buildings.

“We want educational justice,” said Moskowitz. “We want access to educational excellence and opportunity. This is not just about the 194 scholars that we love. This is not just about Harlem Central. This is about our city, our state and our country.”

Over the weekend, de Blasio reversed course and promised to find space for displaced charter school students.

“Remember the 45 proposed co-locations carried over from the Bloomberg administration? We agreed to 36, we disagreed with nine,” de Blasio said Monday. “I think that any judge that looks at it is going to see that we were very balanced and objective.”

De Blasio’s aides have said by denying Success Academy space, the mayor is trying to prevent the loss of special education seats.

In a statement, the Department of Education said: “In our decisions, we set consistent, objective, common sense standards — most importantly protecting students with disabilities.”

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