A politically connected charter school broke state law by switching school districts to get space in wealthy Cobble Hill rather than less desirable neighborhoods, according to the angry parents behind a bombshell lawsuit.
Furious moms and dads from two public middle schools and high schools are demanding that former Manhattan Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz abandon her plans to open a new grade school in their building on Baltic and Court streets, claiming in the suit that her mini-education empire the Success Charter Network “unlawfully circumvented” state education rules to open in their community.
“They’re not playing by the rules,” said Coleen Mingo, whose son attends the School for International Studies, which shares space in the school building with the Brooklyn School for Global Studies. “They’ve left us no other choice but to sue.”
The State University of New York approved Moskowitz’s plan to “open, operate and maintain” a new charter school in Districts 13 or 14, which include Downtown, Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Prospect Heights, and part of Park Slope — but not Cobble Hill, which is in District 15.
The city signed off on Moskowitz’s plan, but opponents say that approval is moot because the state never granted “Brooklyn Success Academy 3” permission to open in their neighborhood.
“It’s an injustice,” said Cobble Hill mom Jacqueline Johnson, who is one of more than two dozen charter school opponents filing the lawsuit. “This is an instance of stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
In order to switch school districts, Success Charter Network must submit a revised proposal that gives District 15 “45 days notice” and provides “an analysis of community support,” according to the lawsuit.
The legal action comes after dozens of furious parents and teachers stormed a Department of Education hearing to protest Moskowitz’s charter school in December, saying it would snatch facilities such as gym and cafeteria space from existing students and overcrowd the building.
A spokesman for the Department of Education, which is also named in the suit, declined to comment, citing a policy about pending litigation. But a representative from Success Charter Network defended the school, saying there’s plenty of support for it in Cobble Hill.There’s already a waiting list of families who want to attend the charter school, said Jenny Sedlis a director with Success Charter Network.
“It’s unfortunate that a few adults intent on protecting the status quo would sue to sacrifice the possibility of a brighter education and future for hundreds of children,” Sedlis said in a statement. “We will fight this lawsuit vigorously.”
Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.