The Board of Trustees of the UFT Charter High School in Brooklyn has voted to bring the school under the supervision of the city’s Department of Education as a regular public school, giving up its charter. The decision to allow the school to be a part of the public system must be approved by the Department of Education and the Panel for Education Policy.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: “There’s a lot of good news in our public schools in recent years, including increased participation in Advanced Placement classes, and a record number of students enrolling in college. Our students, parents and teachers love their high school, and are proud of the individualized support our school gives our students, but they have told us that they want to be a part of a broader community.”
The State University of New York Charter Schools Committee — the regulatory agency that oversees many charters — cited the UFT Charter High School as an academic success in 2017, its most recent five-year license renewal. SUNY in particular cited the school’s graduation rate, and that it “successfully identifies students at risk of academic failure early on in their high school career, and has clear systems in place to ensure they make progress towards graduation.”
By joining the city’s traditional public school system, educators at the charter school said they hoped to be able to provide greater access for their students to a variety of offerings, including the arts, additional Advanced Placement courses, technology, math and dual-language programs and sports programs.
“We have seen the changes in the city’s public schools and seen the investment this city has made in students so that they can reach their full potential. We want to retain the culture we have — the relationships between students, staff and parents — and build on that to make sure our students have access to everything this city has to offer. There are advantages that a system of 1 million students can bring, especially when it is committed to putting those resources in student achievement,” said Justin Davis, the principal of the UFT Charter High School.
“Teachers are supporting the conversion to provide more learning opportunities, such as additional Advanced Placement classes, as well as more clubs — chess, design — and additional resources for our ELL students,” said English teacher Mike Camardese.
“We want to network with other schools. We want to share what we have found to work, and we want to collaborate with colleagues so that we learn from their successes,” said teacher Junior Fernandez, who helped bring a freshman writing program and a financial literacy course to the school. “We are proud of the relationship we have built with our students. Now we want to take it to the next step.”
The UFT Charter School was chartered in 2005, and in 2015 closed its elementary and middle grades, focusing its attention on its high school.
Results from the 2018-19 academic year showed that — despite admitting ninth-graders with low proficiency scores — the UFT Charter School posted a higher graduation rate than the citywide average and the average rate for the schools with similar demographics.
The UFT Charter School, located in Community District 19 in East New York, Brooklyn, now has 180 students and a staff of 18.