School Choice & Charters

N.Y.C. Charter Network Under Scrutiny for ‘Got to Go’ List, CEO Fights Back

By Arianna Prothero — October 30, 2015 2 min read
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Critics of Success Academy Charter Schools, a high-profile, high-performing charter school chain in New York City, have long accused the network of systematically pushing out struggling or disruptive students with the aim of raising test scores.

Success Academy’s founder and CEO, Eva Moskowitz, has firmly denied those accusations while defending her network’s strict rules for student behavior and suspension policies. But documents obtained by The New York Times combined with interviews with several Success Academy staff and parents paint a different picture—one that’s put Success Academy on the defensive.

The Times’ article published this week describes how a principal at a school serving kindergarten through 3rd graders drew up a “Got to Go” list of students with disruptive behavior. Of the 16 names on the list, nine students have since left the Brooklyn campus.

The article goes on to outline a number of ways schools within the network have worked to drive out students. Among them:

  • Suspensions
  • Calling parents into numerous meetings
  • Not sending annual re-enrollment forms to certain students
  • Telling parents the network couldn’t meet their children’s special needs

Success Academy spokeswoman Ann Powell told the Times that the principal who created the “Got to Go” list has been reprimanded and that the network’s intentions have been mischaracterized—especially when it comes to special education students: “Helping some students find better placements is not wrong,” Powell said to the newspaper.

(To hear from parents whose children were placed on the “Got to Go” list, and the principal who drafted it, check out The New York Times piece here.)

Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz held a press conference Friday to address some of the issues raised in the Times article. Chalkbeat New York’s Monica Disare was there live tweeting and videotaping the conference on Periscope.

The Times’ article follows on the heels of a public spat between Moskowitz and reporter John Merrow and the PBS NewsHour over a segment that aired about high suspension rates at the network compared to district schools. (Merrow, a longtime education reporter, announced his retirement over the summer and arranged for his production company, Learning Matters Inc., to be taken over by Education Week. His Success Academy story had been in the works long before that change.)

Moskowitz has also been sparring for over a year with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio over allocating district school space for her fast-growing network.

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Photo: Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, attends a charter school rally outside the New York state Capitol in Albany last March. —Mike Groll/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.