January 7, 2010
The Department of Education is proposing to bring one Harlem space war to a close by moving one of Eva Moskowitz’s charter schools to another building.
Under the proposal, to be released tomorrow, Harlem Success Academy II would move out of the building it currently shares with P.S. 123 and into the East Harlem building currently occupied by KAPPA II, one of the 20 schools the DOE plans to shutter.
The new proposal is likely to be greeted with cheers by parents and teachers at P.S. 123. Whether it will be embraced by P.S. 30 and P.S. 138, the two district schools that currently share their building with KAPPA II, is less clear.
Harlem Success Academy administrators were also not enthusiastic about the plan. Jenny Sedlis, spokeswoman for Success Charter Network, which operates the charter school, said the school considered its possible move a setback.
“The union has won this space war,” Sedlis said.
“Harlem Success Academy II must move in order for it and P.S. 123 to grow to full capacity,” DOE spokeswoman Ann Forte said in a statement. “We considered several options for Harlem Success including underutilized buildings and current buildings where phase-outs have been proposed.”
Harlem Success Academy II has in recent years become the epicenter of the ongoing dispute over whether the city should grant public school space to charter schools, which are not guaranteed public building space by law. Parents at P.S. 123 bitterly fought the initial plan to locate the charter school inside the district school. Last year, the city teachers union successfully stopped the city’s plan to close P.S. 194 and give that building space to the charter. And the school’s continued presence inside P.S. 123 still draws protests.
Sedlis said the proposal was an example of what she characterized as the misconception that the city favors charters at the expense of district schools.
“We endure blockades, protests and name-calling on a regular basis,” Sedlis said. “We’ve gotten kicked out of no fewer than four spaces.”
Like all proposals that significantly change the way school building space is used, the plan will have to undergo a public comment period and be approved by the citywide school board.