The Broad Foundation has awarded Success Academy Charter Schools $5 million to expand their school model, the philanthropy announced this week.
The high-performing network of schools currently operates 22 schools around New York City and expects to open its first high school and six new elementary schools in 2014, which the grant money will go toward. The network of charter schools serves about 7,000 students overall. During the most recent lottery for spots at the schools, 12,500 students applied for 2,500 seats.
The network of charter schools, which serves mostly low-income students and students of color, ranked in the top one percent of all schools in New York in math and in the top seven percent in English/language arts on the 2013 New York State exam.
But in the wake of the announcement, an article in the New York Daily News criticizes the network of schools for its “zero-tolerance” discipline policy that critics say pushes out students with special needs.
An investigation by the paper found that the Success Academy schools had much higher rates of suspensions than the regular public schools in nearby neighborhoods. For instance, four K-5 Success Academies in Harlem had suspension rates ranging from 14 to 22 percent, while nearby regular public schools had suspension rates of six to nine percent.
That criticism is one that many high-performing charter school networks have faced over the years from critics who say that the high rates of suspensions from those schools ‘creams’ the student population and creates two separate and unequal school systems. Read more about discipline policies in charter schools and their impact on students in our special report about that topic.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Charters & Choice blog.