Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Anatomy of a Walkout at Hearing Over HSA 3 Charter Expansion in Public Space - Revised

[Revised video to slow the crawl of the Jiminez letter to SUNY's Jonas Chartock.]

Harlem activist Bill Hargraves points out the shoddy methods in how the DOE runs a so-called public hearing and then leads a walkout.

From Concerned Educators Network:
There was a walkout at the DOE sham hearing to expand Harlem Success Academy in a Public School building on Monday June 21, 2010. Those sham hearings have become a pattern around the city set by the Bloomberg/Klein DOE bureaucracy. They always say, “we come to hear your concerns” only to go back and proceed with their own agenda anyway, namely, close down schools, undermine, underfund, and sabotage them in a systematic way. The New York State Education Law makes the provision for these hearings where communities get to make their voices heard. However, after watching several of these hearings around the city, we have discovered a major flaw in the law. There is no oversight as to the real implementation of the law from beginning to end. In other words, there is no oversight to make sure the DOE honestly and respectfully give weight to the communities concerns in the decision-making process. There is never any change in the DOE’s original proposals, no adjustments that show they really take into account anything members of communities present at those hearings. Therefore, those hearings are pure sham, pure fraud. They become meaningless until such a time when concerns of communities really carry some weight in the decision-making process.

Bill was able to expose some of the mechanisms of this sham and fraud at the “hearing”.

For background info see:


  1. I recently posted this recap of the legal issues we ran across (that DoE has run a truck through to quote our top Regent) in the charter re-authorization process.
    It is a way of expanding charters that escapes the latest laws and
    attempts at checks/balances, transparency.

    I hope folks are disturbed by these legal loopholes that have benefited charters and blocked public discourse about our public schools:

    SUNY only holds hearings for initial charter sitings in DoE buildings - expansions get a total exemption from the hearing process and any public scrutiny/feedback.

    SUNY hearings in connection with schools’ use of NYCDOE space, only have to be held prior to the first time a charter school occupies a particular public school building.

    SUNY outreach is only as good as DoE outreach- and we know how good that is (per Judge Lobis)!

    SUNY does not have access to NYCDOE parents and students, backpack or mailed notice is accomplished with the assistance of the NYCDOE.

    You have to FOIL renewal applications.
    The Institute does not at this time post renewal applications online; they are readily available through the Freedom of Information Law.

    Whatever the intentions, the language of the law means that only the Chancellor's feedback is legally considered in these hearings.

    Comments received from “school district” in the parlance of the Charter Schools Act means the New York City School District as a whole rather than a community school district such as CEC One. Therefore, it is the New York City School Chancellor’s comments that SUNY CSI must legally “consider”

    Finally, the charter authorizers rely on the charter and DoE to tell them that there is sufficient space for the co location.

    The Institute’s initial recommendation that Girls Prep’s plans for the future, which
    included expansion in PS188 was
    based on Girls Prep’s analysis of its space needs
    as well as the
    space utilization analysis and related material prepared by NYCDOE, which indicated that the
    space was under-utilized and that expansion of Girls Prep would not have an adverse impact on
    either of the other schools in the building.

    Lisa Donlan

  2. This lack of due process and due diligence is one of the core reasons Borough President Scott Stringer and more recently Assemblymen Daniel O'Donnell & Keith Wright and Senator Kevin Parker were advocating for charter school sitings to be subject to the Uniform Land-Use Review Process (ULURP).

    ULURP requires public review by Community Boards, the Borough President, the Office of City Planning, City Council, and finally the Mayor. While the process can be like watching the making of sausage in slow motion, even the backroom shenanigans are mostly transparent to anyone who cares to follow.

    Some folks have concerns that ULURP process takes too long, is too political, becomes excruciatingly byzantine. I say where the life and death of schools are concerned you can't have too much due process, but you can have too little.


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