Success Academy was among the charter schools that won a victory after a long dispute with New York City. The state’s appeals court ruled out that the city does not have any jurisdiction to control pre-kindergarten programs in any charter school. The dispute began in the year 2015 when Success Academy introduced pre-kindergarten programs in three of their schools under the universal prekindergarten program in the city, and the schools refused to sign a contract.
The city held that all students are entitled to undergo through the programs to ensure consistency of education quality, but Success Academy said that the contract provided was violating the state law. They argued that the state law gives the authorizers of charter schools the sole right to control and oversee the schools’ operations. The authorizer of the Success Academy, in this case, is the State University of New York.
The city then refused to pay Success Academy amounts for prekindergarten programs, and the charter schools went to State Education Department to seek for help. Apparently, in the year 2006 a ruling by MaryEllen Elia, the state education commissioner stated that charter schools could only be paid after they sign the contract.
This decision by the commissioner led to the rejection of the charter schools’ request by the State Supreme Court in Albany. The Academy together with the parents appealed this rejection to the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division and as well canceled all their pre-kindergarten courses for the year 2016 and 2017.
However, in June 2017, a panel of judges agreed that Ms. Elias decision was a total misinterpretation of the state law and thus it was rejected. In this case, Justice William E. McCarthy noted in the ruling that the legislature does not empower school district through their inspection right to control or regulate pre-kindergarten programs and operations in charter schools.
The commissioner was then directed by the ruling to reconsider funding Success Academy upon their earlier request in a manner consistent with the decision. Success Academy expects an amount of $720,000 from the city. The state education department and city’s law department promised to review their decision despite being disappointed by the ruling made. Success Academy has been operational since the year 2006, and so far the network has 41 schools with over 14,000 students making it the largest charter school network in the city.