A Manhattan judge on Monday rejected a tight bid by the city’s powerful teachers’ union to stop charter school network Success Academy from introducing classes in two buildings.
The United Federation of Teachers filed a lawsuit arguing that the city’s new class size regulations barred the network from offering classes in two public buildings in Queens and Brooklyn.
But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank dismissed the legal move Friday, officially allowing Success Academy to open its doors to hundreds of anxious schoolchildren and their parents next week.
The powerful network now welcomes students to PS 225 in Far Rockaway and the K495 High School complex in Sheepshead Bay.
Frank had previously relaxed a June 30 restraining order that prohibited Success Academy from preparing rooms for the new school year at both schools.
The changed arrangement prevented the organization from installing smart boards and air conditioning on campuses, but did not openly ban classroom activities.
The city legal department got involved in the controversy, arguing that children at both DOE and charter schools would benefit from Success’s renovation plans.
Lawyers for the Department of Energy filed filings this week urging Frank to lift the restraining order.
“Now, three days before classes begin, if we were to force respondents, Success Academy, and hundreds of school children and their families to change course and find a new location for SA-Far Rockaway and SA-Elementary, that would be one thing Significant disruption to the status quo and would be clearly against stocks,” they argued.
Success had promised to begin classes with or without a final resolution to the lawsuit — a position now defunct with Friday’s decision.
“It is incomprehensible that a union representing educators is trying to block school doors and prevent hundreds of children from going to school,” Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said in a statement. “Especially when the majority of these children are underserved.”
The network condemned the UFT for trying to block its operations, noting a drop in enrollments in the city’s public schools.
“The lawsuit, targeting approximately 450 children at the two schools, is the latest in the United Federation of Teachers’ war against charter schools,” Success Academy said. “Over the years, there have been nearly 20 legal attempts by the union to block or delay joint placements for Success Academy students, none of which have ultimately been successful.”
The union has claimed that new city statutes capping middle school classes at 23 students and high school classes at 25 would require public schools to take up more space in city school buildings – and that co-located charter schools would jeopardize compliance.
The UFT said it plans to appeal Friday’s verdict.
“The New York City Department of Education needs to consider the implications of the state’s new class size law when coordinating schools or allocating public space,” a union spokesman said. “Judge Frank avoided addressing this key issue in today’s decision and therefore we plan to appeal.”
The union has previously argued that it was “amazingly irresponsible” to allow its publicly funded and independently operated nemesis to open its doors ahead of a final decision on the case.
With excellent test scores and extensive waiting lists, Success Academy operates 53 schools in every county except Staten Island.
Critics of the charter claim that the schools are diverting resources from traditional public schools, while proponents counter that parents looking for educational options deserve more choices than are offered by the city’s Department of Education alone.
A Post series earlier this year showed that students of color attending charter schools were outperforming their traditional public school counterparts.