Parents Fight Proposed Charter Co-Location In M.S. 126

On December 20, the Department of Education (DOE) Panel for Educational Policy upheld a proposal to co-locate a new charter school into the building at 424 Leonard Street which currently houses students of M.S. 126 John Ericsson, Believe Northside and Believe Southside Charter High Schools, and a Beacon after-school program.

At a pre-vote hearing at the school on December 5, tension filled the auditorium as parents, teachers, politicians and DOE officials gave testimony for and against the arrival of Citizens Of The World Charter School (CWCS). Those opposing the measure were parents and students who currently or might in the future attend these schools. They argued that there is not enough room to safely fit an additional 120 students, and said students would suffer from reduced class time and study/play space. They also expressed fear that the new charter school would divert both funding and a diverse pool of prospective parents away from their school.

Those supporting the co-location were also area parents, as well as CWCS administrators. They insisted that they are a nonprofit, that students needed another school option, and that they would work together with the existing school community to make sure students were not negatively affected.

Both sides were loud and adamant that the other side was either “evil” or “unnecessarily “vicious.” According to Tesa Wilson, president of Community Education Council 14, the DOE has pitted parents against one another by relying so heavily on co-locations. “See, this is divide and conquer,” she said. “We need to say we’re not going to take this anymore.”

CEC 14, Councilmember Stephen Levin, and Assemblymember Joseph Lentol oppose the co-location. Some parents have filed a lawsuit, challenging the State University of New York Board of Trustees’ decision to allow the charter school into New York.

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