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UFT: Charters seeking public space must disclose all
by Micah Landau | October 16, 2013 New York Teacher issue
UFT President Michael Mulgrew called at an Oct. 2 City Council hearing for all charter schools seeking free space in public school buildings to be required to disclose their financial records, political contributions and other information.
Charter schools must be “completely transparent,” Mulgrew said in his testimony before the Council’s Education Committee. “If charters are really public schools, they need to be accountable to the public.”
Mulgrew also wants charters seeking public space to make public their student demographics, suspension rates, teacher and student attrition rates and any other relevant information requested by the local community education council.
“Communities being asked to give up valuable public space deserve to know as much as possible about charters that want to move into their buildings,” he said.
There are currently 1,100 schools co-located in 538 buildings across the city. Roughly 10 percent of those co-locations involve charter schools.
Mulgrew hammered the Department of Education over individual co-locations. He blasted the DOE for squeezing a new school inside IS 2 in Staten Island’s hurricane-ravaged Midland Beach neighborhood. (Six days later, the DOE rescinded the co-location in the face of community outrage.)
At PS 302 in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn, Mulgrew said that the DOE claims there is enough space to co-locate a new school even as it leaves PS 302 students languishing in trailers in the schoolyard. “They’d rather keep children in moldy trailers so they can move forward with their ideology,” he said.
Councilwoman Margaret Chin observed that no DOE educational impact statement had ever concluded that there would be a negative impact on a host school.
Queens Councilman Danny Dromm said that the DOE’s failure to translate documents into Spanish for an Oct. 23 hearing on a co-location at Long Island City HS was “a disgrace.” “You don’t really want parental input,” Dromm told Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “You don’t listen to teachers, and you don’t listen to parents.”
The hearing also considered three other related Council resolutions calling on the state Legislature to grant community education councils veto power over school closings and co-locations in their districts; institute a moratorium on school co-locations; and change the way in which the DOE notifies parents about proposed co-locations.