New York City teacher’s union the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) announced that they have filed a lawsuit against SUNY and its Charter School Institute for allegedly attempting to create a new charter high school that would illegally pierce the charter cap.
On March 4, UFT, as well as their state affiliate New York State Teachers, as well as some NYC parents filed their suit which alleges that SUNY intentionally circumvented the statutory charter cap which currently only allows 271 charter schools to run.
The lawsuit states that by authorizing a new high school in the Bronx, SUNY has illegally breached the charter cap.
“[SUNY authorized] a new Bronx high school, Vertex Partnership Academies, disguised as an expansion of existing charters through a new partnership, Ventoux Partnership Network,” stated a UFT release. “That partnership made between Brilla College Preparatory Charter Schools and Public Prep Charter School Academies would funnel students from both networks to the new high school, an agreement designed specifically to evade both the cap and statutory requirements for the creation of new charter schools.”
The allegations of SUNY circumventing the charter cap began as early as July of 2021, when the State Education Department and Board of Regents said the action was clearly violating state law.
“This is a clear end run around the charter cap,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “Once again, the charter sector is acting as if the rules don’t apply to them. We are here to say – you have to follow the law.”
Parents involved in the suit stated that this was a concerted effort by SUNY to increase their charter school numbers and attempt to entice more students to leave the traditional public school system as well as drain resources.
“City schools already have struggled enough as these charters siphon resources away from our students,” said Ana Rivera, a plaintiff and mother of a Bronx 12th grader. “Enough is enough. We as parents won’t stand for charters that think they exploit the law and take more from our students.”
Others involved in the lawsuit are ready to keep SUNY accountable for what they believe are infractions on the cap as well as a scheme to add charters to their repertoire without following the law.
“The SUNY Trustees and their Charter Schools Institute may think this scheme to create new charter schools is clever, but the law is still the law,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Those who view the charter cap in New York City as a suggestion instead of a statutory mandate are living in a fantasy land. We look to the courts to give them a reality check.”
The lawsuit can be read in full here: https://files.uft.org/nysutvny.pdf
SUNY representatives did not respond to request for comment at time of publication.