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After parents' visit, Sen. Perkins calls for charter school hearings

Charter school advocates’ day of political action in Albany last week appears to have had an unintended consequence: State Senator Bill Perkins now wants to hold hearings to expose an alleged lack of oversight and parent voice in the schools.

In a half-hour interview on WWRL’s Working New York radio show this Saturday, Perkins said that a group of charter school parents who have become disenchanted with their childrens’ schools came to see him and left a lasting impression. Those parents belong to the New York Charter Parents Association, a recently-started group that’s supportive of charter schools, but quite critical of their management.

“There’s a parent movement that’s not being paid attention to within the charter schools,” said Perkins, who recently supported a bill backed by the teachers union that would have lifted the charter cap while placing tight restrictions on how and where the schools open.

“A part of their concern is how the money is being spent, and whether as parent leaders they are allowed to have certain types of access to information. They have been threatened with being put out of the schools if they insist on those types of opportunities that normally any parent would get access to,” he said.

The hearings — which aren’t scheduled, but will be “soon” he said — will focus on the city and state’s oversight of charter schools, the rates at which students are expelled or counseled to leave, and the difficulty parents have in obtaining and understanding schools’ by-laws.

“We want to make these charter school operators in the city to be more transparent and be more open, especially to the parents,” Perkins said.

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