October 19, 2010 – Today, in a letter to the Executive Director of the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell strongly condemned a new charter school application and called for its immediate rejection.
The application, submitted by the Success Academy charter school network, requests approval of a new charter school to be sited on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in Community School District 3. However, it does not specify a proposed location within District 3.
In his letter, O’Donnell noted,
New York State Education Law §2853(3) states that in New York City “all charters authorized…shall be obligated to comply with the department’s health, safety and sanitary requirements applicable to facilities to the same extent as non-charter public schools in such city school district.”
Clearly, it is impossible to ensure that these requirements are satisfied if siting information is not included in the charter application. Requiring that applicants supply location details would ameliorate a currently unacceptable situation: that after charter approval, parents in the existing school community and those of potential charter enrollees currently have no mechanism at the State level to address negative impacts on children’s safety, sanitation, or health.
O’Donnell also stressed the issue of space in the District’s schools, discussing the severe overcrowding experienced by Community School District 3 for the last several years and the fact that many of the children who live in District 3 are presently on waiting lists for their zoned schools. He added, “Families who make up the community in which any proposed charter school would be located deserve an opportunity to be part of the conversation.”
O’Donnell concluded by calling upon the SUNY Charter Schools Institute to reject the application until specific school siting information is included, transparency is improved, and community input is increased.