Judge throws out lawsuit brought by New York teachers’ union that tried to block Charter High School

A state judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the New York teachers’ union to try to block the opening of a new charter high school in the Bronx.

The United Federation of Teachers filed suit earlier this year, alleging that two K-8 charter networks violated the state charter ceiling of 460 by making an agreement to open a joint high school.

But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank, who is also overseeing the controversial case of funding the city’s school budget, found that charter schools have the right to expand from kindergarten through 12th grade and that the project therefore does not violates the limit.

“It is undisputed that every charter is granted under the New York Charter Schools Act
allows the education of students from kindergarten to 12th grade,” said Frank in his four-page verdict on Tuesday.

Brilla College Prep public charter school at 413 East 144th Street, Bronx, NY.
Brilla College Prep, along with Public Prep, agreed that they cannot both establish the common high school and independently run separate K-12 programs.
Google Maps

The charter schools involved are Brilla College Prep and Public Prep, which serve grades K-8 in Manhattan and The Bronx, respectively.

The two operators applied for a revision of their charter licenses in 2019 to propose that their joint high school, the Vertex Partnership Academies, be operated at a single location by an independent entity on their behalf.

The joint high school was approved by the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees, which licenses charter schools along with the Board of Regents.

While the union argued that the new school violated state law, the judge ruled that the project was fine.

He noted in his decision that officials at the SUNY charter school had also approved similar applications for a combined high school to serve students from different K-8 schools.

Brilla College College Prep and Public Prep agreed that they cannot both establish the joint high school and independently run separate K-12 programs, acknowledging that such “double dipping” is prohibited.

“The capacity of students available to these schools under their existing charters remains unchanged… Both sides agree that there is nothing in the existing law that would prevent charter schools from having their school operated by an outside entity.” said Frank.

“Contrary to what the petitioners have said [UFT’s] disputes,” he wrote, “it is clear that this is about revising existing charter schools and not creating a new charter school.”

Frank also said the UFT lacks the credibility to challenge charter license revisions. Only the city’s Department of Education, which was not part of the lawsuit, has claim for alleged damage to the city’s public school system.

SUNY officials who approved the new high charter school welcomed the judge’s decision.

“We are very pleased with the decision in this case – we have believed throughout that our actions are consistent with the law,” said Joseph Belluck, a trustee who chairs SUNY’s Charter School Committee.

A UFT spokesman responded, “The judge’s decision does not allow the affected charters to circumvent the charter law by using this ruling to create more high school places in addition to those involved in the common high school. “

Charter schools are publicly funded, privately run schools that typically have a longer school day and academic year than traditional public schools. They’re popular with parents, but critics, including unions, claim that the mostly non-union alternative schools divert resources from regular public schools.

140,000 students now attend 275 charter schools. One in seven students in the city now attends a publicly funded charter school.

The State Board of Regents, which oversees the State Education Department and has close ties to the unionized legislature, had rejected the Charter Networks’ proposal to form the joint high school. SUNY overruled them.

The Democrat-dominated legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul have refused to raise the cap on opening more charter schools in New York City.

https://nypost.com/2022/08/16/judge-tosses-nyc-teachers-union-suit-that-tried-to-block-charter-high-school/ Judge throws out lawsuit brought by New York teachers’ union that tried to block Charter High School

JACLYN DIAZ

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