In what could be a prelude to another round of space battles with the de Blasio administration, the Success Academy charter school network said Friday it had filed a lawsuit against the city to get access to pre-kindergarten space.
Success Academy said it was suing because the city had denied it space to open pre-K programs at two of its Brooklyn elementary schools, Success Academy Cobble Hill and Williamsburg.
“Instead of encouraging growth, the city just throws up bureaucratic roadblocks,” Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz said in statement.
But city officials said those schools hadn’t been denied space, and that decisions about new pre-K seats for September had not yet been made. The city began soliciting applications from charter schools looking to offer new pre-K seats in December, and those applications were due last week.
“We are in the midst of reviewing applications for pre-K programs and will award programs soon,” Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye said. “We’ve actively solicited charter school submissions and welcome their participation in Pre-K for All.”
A broader disagreement about the nature of pre-K could spell more space fights in the future. Success says its schools are eligible for public space under the state’s new charter-school law that guarantees space or funding to schools adding grades. City officials, citing state law, contend that pre-K is a “program,” and a school adding pre-K is not an expanding school eligible for free or subsidized space.
Department officials said Friday that the timeframe for making a decision about charter schools pre-K space in district buildings had not run out. But this wouldn’t be the first time Success has moved aggressively to pressure the city over space before a deadline.
In December, Moskowitz planned a press conference on the steps of City Hall calling for more space for charter schools. Success cancelled the press conference after city officials agreed to accommodate eight of its schools.