Fort Greene charter school is tougher than Harvard

Fort Greene charter school is tougher than Harvard
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

Compared to the competition for a kindergarten slot, Harvard will be a safety school for these kids.

At a lottery on Tuesday night, more than 400 students sought just 37 kindergarten slots at Fort Greene’s Community Roots Charter School — an acceptance rate far stingier than America’s top universities.

“It’s an indication that times are tough and people are looking for a good public school for their kids,” said Fredrik Anderson, who has children in kindergarten and second grade at the school, which occupies the third floor of PS 67 on St. Edwards Street.

It’s also an indication of continuing discontent with PS 20, on nearby Adelphi Street, and its principal, Sean Keaton.

“The principal is a disaster,” said one poster on insideschools.org, a non-partisan guide to New York City public schools. “He is authoritarian, defensive, and almost incapable of taking input seriously. He has been hostile and even abusive to some parents, sent angry e-mails to parents who dared challenge his authority, and … has pitted parents against each other.”

Some parents have defended Keaton, but statistics show that he is having trouble attracting students from within the school’s catchment area. Only 27 percent of the kindergarten-age students who live in the school’s zone attend. And next year, the school will have only two kindergarten classes, down from three this year.

“He’s losing students,” said one Community Roots parent who did not want to be identified.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education did not return a call and Keaton could not be reached before the Passover holiday.

Meanwhile, the charter school is surging. This year’s 419 applicants for 37 slots next year is up from 299 last year. That 8.8 percent acceptance rate beats Harvard (9.2), Princeton (9.7) and Yale (9.9).