April 24, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for an investigation of allegations of unequal treatment of charter and public schools outside Tweed Courthouse on Monday. According to parents and the public advocate, renovations were completed to remove toxic PCBs in light fixtures at Success Academy Charter Schools while public schools in the same building went untreated. Watch Video
The building is located at 284 Baltic Street in Brooklyn and houses one Success Academy School and three public schools—the Brooklyn School for Global Studies, the School for International Studies and Public School 368K.
Success Academy charters, founded by former City Councilwoman Eva Markowitz, has been incurring the wrath of public school parents over several years as the charters move into public school buildings and benefit from renovations and improvements while public school buildings suffer from neglect.
de Blasio noted that the allegations of unequal treatment at the Cobble Hill School are indicative of growing disparities in the city. He sounded his Tale of Two cities metaphor to express his disbelief.
“We see disparities that are actually growing, whether they are economic or educational. I don’t think I’ve hardly ever seen one as glaring as what we’re here to talk about,” said de Blasio.
He noted that parents noticed the ongoing renovations, particularly the removal of contaminated light fixtures, for the space occupied by Success Academy before the school year started in September.
“This is an inequality that we simply can’t accept. We need to know why some children were protected and others weren’t. We need to know if this is happening to other schools,” de Blasio.
He displayed a letter he’s submitting to Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott and Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon requesting that they investigate the allegations of inequities of capital improvements and remediation efforts between Success Academy charters and public schools.
Billy Easton, Executive Director for the Alliance for Quality Education, mentioned the email exchange uncovered by a Freedom of Information request between former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and Ms. Moskowitz showing how their close working relationship yielded outcomes favorable to Success Academy.
“There’s no doubt that the perception of favoritism exists. The history of the email chain between Klein and Moskowitz several years ago creates the basis for that. We need transparency and clarity from the DOE, and the investigation the public advocate has called for can provide for that transparency,” said Easton.