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De Blasio cancels 3 charter school approvals

In this Feb. 10, 2014 photo, New York

In this Feb. 10, 2014 photo, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his State of the City address at LaGuardia Community College in the Queens borough of New York. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña Thursday said they are reversing decisions by their predecessors to allow three charter schools to operate in district school buildings.

De Blasio's first move to fulfill a pledge to curb the growth of the alternative schools -- which are mostly taxpayer-funded but privately run -- was attacked by charter supporters as "morally wrong" and by some charter foes as not going far enough.

The three targeted facilities are part of the Success Academy Charter Schools system, founded by former City Council member Eva Moskowitz, whom de Blasio frequently criticized during his campaign.

De Blasio said the now-rescinded approvals were made by Mayor Michael Bloomberg "under the wire" without "real consultation" with parents or host schools.

Some of those decisions "literally violated our philosophy of what a good education is," he said at a news conference.

Department of Education officials said they reviewed 49 Bloomberg-approved requests from schools -- district and charter -- to share space in buildings with other schools, or co-locate.

Education officials reapproved 35 requests, canceled nine -- including the three Success Academy schools -- and revised one, limiting the number of students the American Dream Charter School can seat. The remaining decisions were deferred or not released.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said more co-locations should have been axed. "I am concerned about the fact that the vast majority of co-locations approved by the previous administration will be moving ahead as proposed," she said in a statement.

De Blasio has called for a moratorium on co-locating charter and district schools together, for charging some charters rent and for focusing resources on traditional public schools. Charters serve about 70,000 of the city's 1.1 million public school students.

Moskowitz denounced de Blasio's decision saying 350 students at Success Academy schools in lower Manhattan, Harlem and Queens were "being evicted."

"There's so much to say about how wrong, how morally wrong it is," Moskowitz said to an auditorium full of students and parents at the Harlem school. "This is a terrible action and it hurts children, the very children that the mayor claims he wants to help."

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew sided with de Blasio, saying in a statement, "I'm glad the DOE has taken an important first step in vetoing some particularly troublesome pending co-locations."


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