the new space wars

City will grant 12 of 24 charter school co-location requests, including 10 from Success

The city plans to offer space in public school buildings to 10 Success Academy charter schools and two Icahn charter schools, but not to 12 other schools that requested it, officials said late Tuesday.

The 24 new or expanding charter schools had requested the space under the state’s new charter-school law, and some had already been notified of the decisions. But the announcement offers the first glimpse at the city’s overarching strategy when it comes to the space decisions, with officials approving exactly half of the requests, and shows that Success Academy has become a clear favorite in the city’s co-location decision-making process.

The decisions also reflect a change in the de Blasio administration’s attitude toward charter schools since taking office, when Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Success Academy and courted some “mom and pop” charter schools that were not part of larger charter-school networks. This round of decisions favored two networks, Success and Icahn, while rejecting a number of independent charter schools like Growing Up Green and New Dawn, a member of the Coalition of Community Charter Schools that met with city officials earlier this year.

Two of the four schools that the city said it would offer space to in September also belonged to Success Academy, whose CEO Eva Moskowitz led the charge to give charter schools access to free facilities after the mayor nixed three of her schools’ co-location plans in February.

Still, the patterns were not clear-cut. Achievement First, another big network, had three applications rejected, as did least at one favorite of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, VOICE Charter School, which is independent.

A spokeswoman for the department wrote in an email that the decisions were based on the same criteria the city has used since February when it began making co-location decisions: not disrupting programs that serve students with disabilities, avoiding co-locations of elementary school students with high schoolers, not offering space to “very small schools,” and avoiding co-locations that would require significant construction work.

“These decisions reflect our focus on ensuring there is necessary space for school children to thrive while continuing to provide an equitable education for all students no matter of the zip code they live in,” Fariña said in a statement.

The city has not yet said exactly where the eight new Success Academy charter schools approved for public space will be located. (Two of the Success Academy approvals are one-grade expansions of elementary schools, though the city says it is looking into finding space for those schools’ middle-school grades as well.) Those final decisions will require public hearings that could grow contentious.

“We are pleased that the administration is committed to working with public charter schools and look forward to serving the families of these communities,” Moskowitz said in a statement.

The 12 rejections will trigger an appeals process that is likely to result in the city paying for the schools to operate in private facilities, which could run into the millions of dollars. The state approved one new city charter school’s request for funding last week.

The city’s announcement did not include decisions about all of the schools that have requested space. Six more Success Academy schools are “deferring” their space requests, and other schools that requested space more recently have not yet received a response.

Here is the list of approvals from the city, along with the district where they applied for space:

  • Icahn Charter School 6 (expansion to grades 5-8), District 9
  • Icahn Charter School 7 (expansion to grades 5-8), District 8
  • Success Academy Williamsburg (expansion to grade 5), District 14 [Note: The city says it expects to offer space for grades 6-8, but that may be in another district.]
  • Success Academy Cobble Hill (expansion to grade 5), District 15 [Note: The city says it expects to offer space for grades 6-8, but that may be in another district.]
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 3, District 9
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 4, District 27
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 6, District 14
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 8, District 17
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 10, District 18
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 11, District 23
  • Success Academy Charter School – NYC 13, District 28

And the rejections:

  • Neighborhood Charter School of Harlem (request for 3rd grade in 2014 only), District 5
  • South Bronx Early College High School, District 7
  • Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, District 15
  • VOICE Charter School, District 30
  • New Ventures Charter School, District 31
  • Lavelle Prep Charter School, District 31
  • Bedford Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School, District 16
  • New Dawn Charter High School, District 15
  • Growing Up Green, District 30
  • Achievement First Charter School 10, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23
  • Achievement First Charter School 11, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23
  • Achievement First Charter School 12, Districts 16, 17, 19 or 23

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.