Success Charter Wins Approval to Open a Williamsburg School

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The Panel for Educational Policy gave Eva S. Moskowitz the green light on Thursday to open a charter school inside of a Williamsburg middle school building, but opponents of the plan are taking the matter to court.

The 13-member panel, which is controlled by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, met in the auditorium of the Brooklyn Technical High School in Fort Greene. It approved the September 2012 opening of the school, Williamsburg Success Charter, in space within the Junior High School 50 building. A hearing last month at the school drew a large crowd of opponents and supporters of the plan.

Iin Fort Greene Park shortly before the meeting, members of the Southside Coalition -- a collection of advocacy groups and community organizations opposed to the charter school -- said they had filed a lawsuit to prevent the school from opening.

Groups from Williamsburg's predominantly Latino south side have opposed the school since it was proposed and maintained that the Success Academy network has made few efforts to reach Spanish-speaking parents. But Success Academy says it has tried to reach Latino residents and is setting aside 20 percent of its seats for English language learners.

According to GothamSchools, the Success Academy network plans to open three more charter schools in Brooklyn in 2013.

The issue of the city's unclaimed Medicaid reimbursements for special education students was on Thursday at the center of a City Council hearing, which was called after The New York Times reported that the city had failed to collect tens of millions of dollars, largely because it lacked the staff and training to do so.

At the hearing, officials from the city's Education Department admitted that they had failed to file claims, but the teachers' union and some elected officials were unsatisfied with the response. Fernanda Santos of The Times wrote:

Michael Mulgrew, president of the city teachers’ union, the United Federation of Teachers, called the department’s troubles in collecting the reimbursements “gross incompetence.” The Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, who addressed the problem last year in a letter to Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, described it as “absolutely a New York City embarrassment.”

And The Daily News has an article Friday about Public School 119 in the Bronx, where students for decades have traveled to a nearby middle school to eat lunch because their own elementary school has 1,000 students and space for 500. But now the Education Department is planning to open a school inside of Junior High School 125's building, the overflow site used by 400 P.S. 119 students, and parents are protesting the decision.

“Now you want to bring in a new middle school?” asked Luis Sepulveda, a community activist. “Where are you going to place students? You see kids herded like sheep from one school to the next school.”

For the more than 7,000 eighth graders who were not matched to a high school through the first round of the city's admissions process, there will be a high school fair this Saturday and Sunday at the Martin Luther King Jr. building at 122 Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. Schools that are opening in the fall as well as schools that still have available seats will man tables where students and parents can learn more about their remaining options.

And Friday is the deadline to apply for kindergarten. According to the city's admissions timeline, letters of initial offer will be distributed beginning March 19 and preregistration will begin on March 26. Children who are put on waiting lists will be offered seats at other elementary schools.

At 9:10 a.m. on Friday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will be on the "John Gambling Show," which you can listen to at and 710 AM.

And at 10 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott will take part in a panel discussion on education reform with the federal education secretary, Arne Duncan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. Although the event itself will take place in Washington, D.C., it can be watched via live webcast.