A nascent proposal to open a new charter school in 2020 is prompting an emergency meeting of local parent leaders.
The local parent council for District 3, which covers the Upper West Side and Harlem, called the meeting Dec. 17 in response to the announcement by KIPP, one of the largest charter networks in the city, that it wants to open an “intentionally diverse” school in the area.
The meeting of the council’s charter school committee is meant “to address KIPP:NYC’s plans for a District 3 Harlem Middle School and the siphoning of students from Harlem public schools which equates to funds for your children,” according to the council’s press release. KIPP has not identified in which neighborhood in District 3 it hopes to open.
It’s unsurprising that the council is responding with alarm to the charter school proposal, which is only in the planning phases now. The district has long opposed new charter schools that they fear would destabilize enrollment — especially in Harlem, where many charters have already opened.
Still, the meeting underscores how many hurdles KIPP’s proposal is likely to face. The charter network had hoped to join with the parent council in making the district’s schools more diverse. Parents there pushed for admissions changes to help integrate middle schools. The changes go into effect this year.
“Our teacher-leaders have been meeting with families and community leaders about the education needs in the district and we look to forward to continuing to listen and learn in the coming months,” KIPP spokeswoman Vicki Zubovic said in a statement.
The parent council does not have formal authority over charter schools in its geography bounds. But they can play a role in advocating for or against the changes — as they did with the middle school integration plan. (KIPP will also have to contend with a cap on the number of charter schools that can open in the city and a legislature that is now less friendly to charter school interests.)
“We will be absolutely 100 percent against it,” Kim Watkins, president of the District 3 parent council, told Chalkbeat this week, referring to the KIPP school. “We will use any means at our disposal to oppose it.”
The council’s emergency meeting is scheduled for Dec.17 at 9 a.m. at 154 W. 93rd St., room 204.
Christina Veiga contributed reporting.