Success Academy Charter Schools won’t offer pre-kindergarten classes next year after losing a high-profile fight with city and state officials.
The charter network has refused to sign the city’s pre-K contract, arguing that it includes inappropriate regulations about how charter schools manage their time and design their curriculum. But neither Mayor Bill de Blasio nor State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has allowed Success to bend the rules, and both have insisted that Success sign the contract or lose funding.
In recent months, Success officials have continued their fight in court. But with no resolution in sight, the city’s largest charter-school network will close its three existing pre-K programs and will not open two more planned for next school year, CEO Eva Moskowitz announced Wednesday.
“It is unbelievably sad to tell parents and teachers that the courts won’t rescue our pre-K program from the mayor’s war on Success in time to open next year,” Moskowitz said.
The pre-K battle marks the latest chapter in an ongoing feud between de Blasio and Moskowitz, and one of Moskowitz’s only public losses. The two have warred over school space in the past, and Moskowitz has criticized de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for their lack of public enthusiasm for charter schools.
Success Academy, whose schools frequently post very high state test scores, released a letter sent to de Blasio from parents who they say planned to send their children to Success’ pre-K program rehashing that criticism.
“When you made the decision to withhold funding for Success Academy’s pre-k you sent a clear signal to charter school families like ours that politics is more important than our children’s education,” the letter reads.
The Success Academy funded its three pre-K programs itself this year, but is looking for public funding to do so in the future. (A spokesman for Success said they hope their lawsuit will allow them to recoup that funding.) City officials say the pre-K contract — which other charter networks have signed — exists so the city can hold all publicly-funded programs to high standards.
“The State upheld our important standards to ensure all programs are high quality,” education department spokeswoman Devora Kaye said Wednesday.
The decision continues a recent wave of bad press for Success, which has faced criticism over a school leader who created a “Got to Go” list of difficult students and strict discipline practices. The network also faces a lawsuit over its treatment of students with disabilities.
Success has appealed the state’s decision to the State Supreme Court.