Like most states, New York has a limit (a “cap”) on the total number of charters permitted to open in New York State and in New York City. The state cap is 460 charters. The city cap is 242 (included in the state total). The charter lobby has urged an increase in the number allowed, because there is no room for growth. Recently, the State University of New York authorized a new charter high school in NYC, claiming that it was an expansion, not a new charter school. The city and state teachers’ union, along with parents, filed a lawsuit to require the State University of New York to follow state law.

From: UFT Press Office <press@uft.org>
Sent: Friday, March 4, 2022 3:09 PM
Subject: UFT, parents sue SUNY over charter school cap-busting scheme

For Immediate Release – Friday, March 4, 2022

Unions, parents sue SUNY over New York City charter school cap-busting scheme

NEW YORK March 4, 2022 — New York city and state teachers unions, joined by parents, have filed a lawsuit against SUNY and its Charter Schools Institute to block the creation of a new charter high school in New York City that would illegally pierce the state cap on new charters in the city.

The United Federation of Teachers, its state affiliate, New York State United Teachers, and parents allege that SUNY circumvented the clear statutory cap on new charters by authorizing a new Bronx high school, Vertex Partnership Academies, disguised as an expansion of existing charters through a new partnership, Ventoux Partnership Network. 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 scheme not only was called out by the State Education Department and Board of Regents in July as clearly violating state law, the lawsuit states that SUNY itself is treating the high school as if it’s a new charter, requiring accountability measures that in SUNY’s own words are “normally reserved for new schools.”

What’s more, Ventoux founder Ian Rowe publicly touts in his biography for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute the creation of “a new network of character-based, International Baccalaureate public charter high schools to open in the Bronx.”

“Put simply, if it looks like a new charter, is held accountable like a new charter, and is structured like a separate and new charter, then it is indeed a new charter and not an expansion,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit can be read in full here: https://files.uft.org/nysutvny.pdf

“This is a clear end run around the charter cap. 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,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

“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.”

“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.”