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Success taking legal action against city over co-location reversals

Parents from Success Academy charter schools want state and federal authorities to help them hold on to public space that the network was promised under the Bloomberg administration.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced two weeks ago that three Success schools would be among 10 that would not be able to go through with promised plans to open or expand in public space. (He allowed plans to open or move several other Success schools to go forward.) Since then, Success has been pushing back with an aggressive public relations campaign.

Now, Moskowitz and Success parents plan to announce a series of legal actions at a press conference Monday morning. A source with knowledge of the announcement said Moskowitz would announce that the parents are filing petitions with the U.S. Department of Education and New York State Education Department.

Parents will file formal appeals to the State Education Department over the city’s decision to cancel space-sharing plans for two Success elementary schools that haven’t opened yet in lower Manhattan and Jamaica, Queens. Those schools have not yet admitted any students, although the network has received applications to them.

The federal petition will be a civil rights complaint, according to the source, who wished to remain anonymous because the source was not authorized to speak publicly about the announcement. That complaint will cover the city’s reversal of space-sharing plans for Harlem Central, a high-performing Success charter middle school that serves mostly low-income, nonwhite students.

Making a discrimination claim could be a challenge for the network. The students in the building where Harlem Central was told it could not expand are also low-income and nonwhite. In addition, the many space-sharing plans that the de Blasio administration allowed to go forward are for schools that enroll low-income and nonwhite students.

In a statement, the city education department said it was already in the process of taking care of the Harlem Central school. Overall, it defended its decision-making process around the 17 co-location plans up for consideration last month.

“In our decisions, we set consistent, objective, commonsense standards—most importantly protecting students with disabilities. We remain deeply committed to the rights of all students, and ensuring every child has access to a great education,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement.