September/October 2021 Issue
August 21, 2021

Regents uphold charter school cap

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

NYSUT applauded the Board of Regents for rejecting the SUNY Charter School Committee’s thinly veiled scheme to ‘revise’ existing charters and circumvent the existing charter school cap in New York City.

“Until meaningful reforms are enacted to ensure that charter schools are transparent and accountable to taxpayers, the state should not allow for the expansion of charter schools,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Jolene T. DiBrango. “If the SUNY Board of Trustees Charter Schools Committee is going to try to circumvent the cap on new charter schools in New York City by any means necessary — like in this case by allowing a thinly veiled scheme to revise existing charters to pass muster — someone must step in and call out what’s happening. That’s exactly what the Regents and State Education Department have done. We applaud Chancellor Young, Commissioner Rosa and the Regents for standing up for what’s right.”

Under the plan approved by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee, a new charter management organization, Ventoux Partnership Network, Inc., would create a new regional charter high school for nearly 1,000 high school students by expanding grades at four existing charter middle schools in New York City. SED noted that the network’s website acknowledged the attempt to circumvent the law, stating that this “will allow more high-quality high schools to open despite a cap on charters.”

The plan will now go back to the SUNY Charter School Committee for possible reconsideration.

DiBrango noted that the Board of Regents has been willing to stand up to a number of illegitimate charter school actions by the SUNY Charter Schools Committee, whether it’s seeking “early renewals” for certain charter networks or attempting to create an entirely new teacher certification system for charter schools. The union joined SED in court to successfully block the plan to allow charter schools to certify their own staff.

There are currently 91 charters available for new applicants seeking to open a school in New York state outside of New York City. The SUNY Charter Schools Institute has received applications for new charter schools in Albany, Central Islip, Rochester, Schenectady, Wyandanch and Yonkers. An application for Auburn was withdrawn.

SED has received three applications for charter schools proposed in Rochester.