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NYC now seeking space for booted charter schools

Several thousand charter school supporters gathered near the

Several thousand charter school supporters gathered near the steps of the Capitol in Albany on March 4, 2014. Credit: Philip Kamrass

The city's top educator appeared to do an about-face Friday on the de Blasio administration's decision to displace several charter schools run by a foe of the mayor.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said the city Department of Education is "looking for a space to put the children" of the Success Academy, three schools of which were told last week that Bloomberg-era space-sharing arrangements were being voided.

"We're looking for an additional space," she said during an interview on Fox 5's "Good Day New York." "We might be able to accommodate the Success Academy."

On Wednesday, the chancellor told reporters that the charter schools are "on their own" and that students displaced could attend nearby traditional public schools. But in the TV interview, Fariña apologized for the remark.

"Honestly, I shouldn't have said it," she said. "The reality is, I had just come off a meeting, I had done a lot of things. And they stick a mic in your face. Did I mean it? No," the chancellor said.

De Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell also did not return messages, nor did Department of Education spokespersons Devon Puglia and Devora Kaye reply to messages seeking details, such as the timetable for finding space, or where it will be.

The de Blasio administration announcement on charters Feb. 27 was to reverse 11th-hour decisions under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to shoehorn three of the Success Academy schools into city-owned spaces, known in education parlance as "co-location."

The administration did greenlight most of the other Bloomberg-era co-locations, however.

Success Academy's head Eva Moskowitz -- a former City Council member and longtime foe of de Blasio -- had ripped his decision as "morally wrong."

The mayor and the chancellor maintained that Moskowitz's charter school placement would have displaced traditional public-school students, including those with special needs.

Earlier this week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spoke at a huge rally in Albany vowing to "save charter schools" -- a not-so-subtle dig at de Blasio, who was simultaneously holding his own rally for his tax-the-rich pre-K plan in another part of the capital.

Fariña said in the interview that she's not against charter schools and that some of them are innovative. But she didn't directly answer whether there should be more. She said they would be evaluated "case by case."

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