Eva Moskowitz agreed to open a pre-K program on behalf of the City of New York. But she refused to sign the contract that other charter schools (and all public schools and facilities) agreed to sign. Eva said that the city was not her boss, even though the money for the program came from the city.

She refused to back down. She refused to sign the contract. She canceled the pre-K program, for the fall, which enrolled about 70 children at a cost to the city of about $700,000.

Success Academy Charter Schools Cancels Pre-K
After months of fighting with City Hall about a prekindergarten contract, Success Academy Charter Schools said Wednesday it was canceling its pre-K program for the fall.

For nearly a year the charter’s founder, Eva Moskowitz, has refused to sign a contract that New York City requires of providers who participate in its public pre-K program. She says it aims to exert too much control over her curriculum, daily schedule and field trips.

City officials have said that every other pre-K provider, including charter schools, signed the same basic contract, and doing so was a clear condition of joining the initiative. Expanding public preschool has been a key part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda.

Ms. Moskowitz has said the charter oversight body at the State University of New York is the proper authority over her network. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia ruled in the city’s favor in February, saying pre-K is a state-funded grant program, rather than part of the K-12 levels overseen by SUNY.

Ms. Moskowitz appealed to the state Supreme Court earlier this year, but said Wednesday that the court’s decision would come too late to open doors in August, and families of admitted children must scramble to find alternatives.

“It is unbelievably sad to tell parents and teachers that the courts won’t rescue our pre-K program from the mayor’s war on Success in time to open next year,” she said in a news release.

“The state upheld our important standards to ensure all programs are high quality,” Department of Education spokeswoman Devora Kaye said.

Success Academy started a prekindergarten program for 72 children in four classrooms last August, and planned to expand slightly for the next school year. A spokesman said about 3,000 children entered an admissions lottery for about 100 seats for the coming year.

Ms. Moskowitz and Mr. de Blasio have clashed repeatedly over the city’s obligation to provide space for charters and other issues. She said she hopes for a court victory so she can reopen prekindergarten classes in August 2017.

A spokesman said she is still seeking $720,000 reimbursement from the city for the current school year.